Piglets eat more and more varied, when the sow is near. According to researcher Marije Oostindjer from Wageningen University this might be due to the fact that piglets copy the experience that their mother has with different types of feed.
Oostindjer investigated different strategies to increase the appetite of piglets. This is beneficial because not all the piglets eat solid feed straight after weaning, which could lead to health and welfare problems.
Oostindjer gave the piglets different types of snacks – such as (chocolate) peanuts and cheese parts. She found out that the piglets tried more different things when the mother sow was close to them. Also, when piglets were housed on enriched flooring (e.g. sawdust), they tried more of the snacks. The presence of the mother sow had the greatest influence.