Individual Variation in Eating Speed of Dry Sows

Ever wondered how fast sows eat? This study from Norway and Australia reveals quite wide variation in speed for both wet and dry feed, and also the role of body size in feed consumption rate.
calendar icon 13 May 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

In Journal of Animal Science, Knut Bøe of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and G. Cronin of the University of Sydney in Australia report their investigation into the variation in eating speed by individual pregnant sows and the influence of feeding dry compared to wet feed.

A total of 39 Norwegian Landrace × Yorkshire dry sows, 13 primiparous and 26 multiparous, were included in the experiment.

In experimental period 1, each sow was offered 2.2kg of a standard concentrate feed without added water.

In experimental period 2, the sows were offered the same weight of concentrate feed but after mixing with water at a ratio of 1:4, based on weight.

The sows were kept in groups of four or five in pens with individual feeding stalls.

The weighed allocations of feed were poured into the troughs before the sows were given access to the food. On day 1, the sows were allowed to eat for 15 minutes, on day 2 for 10 minutes, on day 3 for five minutes, on day 4 for two minutes and 30 seconds and on day 5 for one minute and 15 seconds.

At the designated time, feed troughs were covered, blocking sow access, and residual feed was carefully removed and weighed.

Mean consumption rate of dry feed was 183.2g per minute for the first five minutes and 169.7g per minute for the first 10 minutes.

For wet feed, the mean consumption rate was 1,859.8g per minute for the first five minutes and 1,060.7g per minute for the first 10 minutes.

After five minutes, the sows had consumed 41.6 per cent of the dry feed (range 19.5 to 79.1 per cent; CV=31.0 per cent) and 84.5 per cent of the wet feed (range 54.3 to 99.1 per cent; CV=14.9 per cent).

After 10 minutes, the sows had consumed 77.1 per cent of the dry feed (range 33.9 to 100.0 per cent; CV=24.9 per cent) and five of the 39 sows had completely ingested their allotted feed.

When feed was wet, sows finished 96.4 per cent of the ration (range 72.7 to 99.1 per cent; CV=6.4 per cent) after 10 minutes.

The speed of eating dry feed was positively correlated with sow weight, both at five minutes (R=0.72; P<0.001) and 10 minutes (R=0.75; P<0.001) but for wet feed, the correlation was weak at five minutes (R=0.36; P<0.05) and there was no correlation at 10 minutes (R=0.20; P>0.10).

The researchers concluded that dry feed resulted in larger individual variation in feed consumption rate than wet feed.

They added that whereas feed consumption rate was correlated with liveweight of the sow when eating dry feed, the relationship was not significant when sows ate wet feed.


Bøe K.E. and G.M. Cronin. 2015. Individual variation in eating speed of dry sows. J. Anim. Sci. 93:1881-1886.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

May 2015

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