New research at Iowa State University (ISU) tested whether the use of ethanol by-products in swine diets to reduce air emissions would have an impact on pig behavior.

Four treatments were studied: distiller’s dried grains with soluble (DDGS), dehulled, degermed corn (DDC), corn germ meal (CGM) and a conventional corn-based diet (CORN). All diets were formulated to National Research Council recommendations.

Forty-eight (PIC) pigs, averaging 40 lb., were allocated to eight rooms (6 pigs/pen). Each pen included a two-hole feeder and a hanging nipple waterer.

Starter and two grower phase diets are shown in Table 1. Pigs received the starter test diet at 40 lb., the first grower diet at 60 lb., and the second grower diet at 90 lb.

The first finisher diet was fed at 128 lb., the second at 172 lb., and the final finishing phase diet began at 222 lb. (Table 2). Pigs averaged 273 lb. at the end of the trial.

Pigs were observed for two behaviors (eating, drinking), two postures (active, inactive) or unknown (when posture or behavior could not be determined).

Pigs were checked twice daily at 7 a.m. and at 3 p.m. for general health appearance, feed and water. Video footage was collected for 24 hours following each dietary phase change.

None of the dietary regimens produced changes in behavior or posture. (Table 3).

On average, the grow-finish pigs spent 7.2% of their time eating, 0.9% drinking, 4.4% active and 87.2% of the time inactive.

“It is encouraging to note that even by manipulating the level of hemicellulose content in the diet of the growing-finishing pig, there were no changes in the pigs’ behavioral repertoire, in particular in the amount of time engaged in maintenance-related behaviors,” the research team explained.

And while pigs adapted quickly to all of the dietary phases, due to the small number of pens used, this work should be repeated to determine if this adaptation holds true in a commercial setting.

The research was supported by the National Pork Board and ISU Department of Animal Science Startup Funds.

Researchers: A.K. Johnson, A.J. Holliday, L.J. Sadler and K.J. Stalder, Iowa State University; and Wendy Powers, Michigan State University. Contact Johnson by phone (515) 294-2098, fax (515) 294-4471 or e-mail johnsona@iastate.edu .