Perinatal flavor learning and adaptation to being weaned: All the pig needs is smell

Oct 20, 2011

Weaning can be a stressful time, but new research published in the Oct. 19 edition of the online journal PLoS ONE shows that the presence of familiar flavors in food, or even in the surrounding air, has positive effects on piglet growth, food uptake, and behavior upon weaning, suggesting reduced stress. In the study, pregnant sows were fed anise-flavored food for about two weeks before birth and three weeks after.

The piglets were then weaned and also exposed to the anise flavor, either through their food or air. Their resulting behavior and revealed that those exposed to the anise flavor both perinatally and post-weaning were less stressed than their non-flavor treated kin. Furthermore, simply smelling the familiar flavor was sufficient to elicit a favorable response.

The principle of "flavor learning" based on the mother's diet has been well established in a variety of contexts, but previous work by the authors, led by Marije Oostindjer at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, showed practically no effect of flavor treatment applied only postnatally. According to Dr. Oostindjer, the results are "still elusive after many years of research, and at the same time the research has applied value as it can increase health and welfare of newly weaned ."

Explore further: South American parrot in trouble: researchers

More information: Oostindjer M, Bolhuis JE, Simon K, van den Brand H, Kemp B (2011) Perinatal Flavour Learning and Adaptation to Being Weaned: All the Pig Needs Is Smell. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25318.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025318

Related Stories

The Four Loko effect

May 23, 2011

The popular, formerly caffeinated, fruity alcoholic beverage, Four Loko, has been blamed for the spike in alcohol-related hospitalizations, especially throughout college campuses.

Keeping beer fresher

Jun 02, 2008

Scientists in Venezuela are reporting an advance in the centuries-old effort to preserve the fresh taste that beer drinkers value more than any other characteristic of that popular beverage. Their study, which ...

The short goodbye: Weaning foals

Oct 06, 2011

It is widely believed that being born is about the most stressful thing that can happen to anybody. But being weaned cannot be too far behind it in the list of traumatic experiences. Most humans come to terms with it eventually ...

Recommended for you

South American parrot in trouble: researchers

8 hours ago

A South American parrot with a wine-colored chest is in deep trouble, with its population down to some 3,000 and a habitat reduced to a speck of what it once was, researchers said Tuesday.

From worker to queen at the drop of a gene

17 hours ago

Biologists from the University of Leicester have discovered that one of nature's most important pollinators - the buff-tailed bumblebee – either ascends to the status of queen or remains a lowly worker ...

What is the best way to kill a cane toad?

19 hours ago

Like many pests, cane toads are killed in their thousands in Australia every year, especially by community-based 'toad-busting' groups. New research has now revealed the most humane way to do it.

Petrels tracked across the Oceans

19 hours ago

Staff at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are following the journeys of White-chinned Petrel fledglings as they make their first journeys over the South Atlantic Ocean in search of food. The birds have been ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.