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Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards
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The group size within which a dominance hierarchy can function without modification is finite. Sub-grouping behaviour may fragment a large group into smaller units in which a dominance hierarchy may be preserved. This could be achieved by spatial localisation, as indicated by the existence of preferred resting locations, or associations between individuals, independently of location. Large group sizes are routinely used in livestock production and, due to the restricted space allowance, offer minimal opportunities for dispersal. The existence of sub-grouping behaviour in large groups of pigs, a species which adopts a hierarchical social structure in smaller groups, was investigated. The existence of, and affinity to, preferred resting locations and dependency between individuals in their choice of resting locations were investigated in groups of 20 and 80 growing pigs housed indoors. The role of physical attributes of the animals in determining spacing behaviour was also examined. Pigs in both group sizes exhibited resting location preferences, but clustering around the mean location was more dispersed in the larger groups. Pigs in groups of 80 therefore rested alongside a greater number of individuals than those in groups of 20. Little evidence was found in the larger groups for dependency between individuals in their choice of resting locations. Despite the presence of preferred resting locations, this non-random space use did not result in the emergence of sub-groups under indoor conditions in which phenotypic variation between individuals was slight. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Turner SP, Morgan GW, Edwards SA
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
ISSN (print): 0168-1591
ISSN (electronic): 1872-9045
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