Effect of group size and feeder type on growth performance and feeding patterns in finishing pigs

Y. Hyun, M. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of four group sizes (2, 4, 8, and 12 pigs per pen) and two single-space feeder types (conventional and electronic feed intake recording equipment [FIRE]) on feed intake, growth performance, and feeding patterns were determined in 208 crossbred finishing pigs (equal numbers of barrows and gilts) between 84.4 (SD = 0.81) to 112.8 (SD = 1.08) kg BW over a 4-wk period. Pigs were given ad libitum access to a corn-soybean meal-based diet (15.9% CP; 0.79% lysine; 3,328 kcal ME/kg). The floor space allowance was 0.9 m2/pig for all treatments. Growth rates were not different for the two feeder types; however, feed intake was lower and gain:feed ratio higher for pigs on the FIRE feeders (P < 0.01). Feed intake, growth rate, and gain:feed ratio were not different (P > 0.05) among the group sizes. Number of feeder visits per day decreased and feed intake per visit, feeder occupation time per visit, feed consumption rate, and percentage of time the feeder was occupied increased with group size (P < 0.05). Feed intake per visit had the strongest correlation with daily feed intake (r = 0.54; P < 0.01) and was negatively correlated with gain:feed ratio (r = -0.38; P < 0.01). However, the correlations between growth performance and other feeding pattern traits were relatively weak (r ≤ 0.30). As group size increased, diurnal variation in number of feeder visits and feed consumed per hour decreased. There was no difference in time spent sitting and standing between the two feeder types. The proportion of time spent eating was generally lower for the larger groups on both feeders. The proportion of time spent lying was similar across group sizes for pigs on the conventional feeders but was greater for pigs in the larger groups on the FIRE feeders. This study suggests that finishing pigs can maintain feed intake and growth rate by changing feeding behavior as group size increases from 2 to 12.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-574
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2002


  • Feeding Behavior
  • Finishing
  • Group Size
  • Growth
  • Pigs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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