Livestock Research for Rural Development 22 (8) 2010 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

A note on the pattern of feed intake in Mexican Cuino pigs

F Grageola, C Lemus, R Huerta, S Martínez, A Gómez, C Díaz* and J Ly*

Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit. Ciudad de la Cultura Amado Nervo, CP. 63190. Tepic. Nayarit, México
* Instituto de Investigaciones Porcinas. CP 10090, Punta Brava, La Habana, Cuba


The effect of sex (females or castrated males) on the pattern of feed intake was studied in 14 Mexican local, Cuino pigs averaging 59.6 kg and fed ad libitum a conventional diet given in meal form and based on maize and soybean meal (N x 6.25, 14.2%) during 16 weeks.


Feed consumption during the two hours of observation (9:00 to 11:00 a.m.) accounted for 91.5 and 94.8% of dry feed offered to castrate male and female Cuino pigs; therefore, during the session of measurements, the level of feed intake was 35.2 and 35.3 g/kg live weight in castrate male and female individuals. Females spent less time eating than the castrate male animals (p<0.01) but visited the trough more frequently (p<0.05). As a consequence, meal size was significantly smaller (p<0.05) in female than in castrate male pigs. Eating rate showed a sex effect (p<0.01) too. Mean eating rate was 41.3 and 72.4 g DM/min for castrate male and female pigs, respectively. It is suggested that differences exist between castrate male and female Cuino pigs in the pattern of feed intake.

Key words: eating rate, meal size, sex

Una aproximación al patrón de consumo de alimento en cerdos Cuino Mexicanos


Se estudió el efecto del sexo (hembras o machos castrados) en el patrón de consumo de alimento en 14 cerdos locales, Cuino mexicanos con un peso vivo promedio de 59.6 kg y alimentados ad libitum durante 16 semanas con una dieta convencional basada en maíz y soya en forma de harina (Nx6.25, 14.2%).


El consumo de alimento durante las dos horas de observación (9:00 a 11:00 a.m.) fue 91.5 y 94.8% de la comida ofrecida a los cerdos Cuino, machos castrados y hembras; por tanto durante la sesión de mediciones, el nivel de consumo fue 35.2 y 35.3 g/kg de peso vivo en individuos machos castrados y hembras. Las hembras ocuparon menos tiempo comiendo que los machos castrados (p<0.01) pero visitaron más veces el comedero (p<0.05). Como consecuencia, el tamaño de ración fue significativamente (p<0.05) más pequeño en hembras que en machos castrados. La velocidad de ingestión tuvo también influencia del sexo (p<0.01). La velocidad media de ingestión fue 41.3 y 72.4 g MS/min para machos castrados y hembras, respectivamente. Se sugiere que existen diferencias entres cerdos Cuino machos castrados y hembras en cuanto al patrón de consumo.

Palabras clave: sexo, tamaño de ración, velocidad de ingestión


Mexican Cuino pigs belong to a local endangered breed very poorly studied, although it was introduced in the country since some 500 years ago (Lemus and Alonso Spilbury 2005; Lemus 2008). The animals never have been improved from the point of view of intensive pig production (Lemus et al 2003, 2005), and the growth and body composition may be described as slow and of a fat type (Lemus 2008). In this connection, it has been observed that voluntary feed intake is rather low in Cuino pigs offered feed ad libitum (Lemus 2008).


The effect of sex of pigs on the pattern of feed intake has been reported by De Haer and De Vries (1993). Nevertheless, not enough detailed evidence has been accumulated concerning sex as source of variation in feeding behavior of pigs (Bruininx et al 2001; Renaudeau et al 2005) as compared, for example, the influence of genetics on traits with regards to the pattern of feed intake (Heup 1998; Fernández 2001). From the point of view of local American pigs, although there are some data concerning the pattern of feed intake of these animals raised in the Caribbean basin (Renaudeau et al 2005; Macías et al 2008; Gourdine et al 2006; Peralta et al 2008; Díaz et al 2010), it is considered that not enough information related to the characteristics of feed intake of creole pigs is available (Rinaldo et al 2003; Ly 2008). In this regard, it is recognized on one hand that feed intake is an important trait influencing animal performance (Kyriazakis and Emmans 1999). On the other hand, Heup (1998), Baumung et al (2006) and Fernández (2001) among others claimed that feed intake behavior traits exert a notable effect on all performance traits of pigs of different types of breed.


This experiment had objectives directed to describe the effect of sex on the pattern of feed intake of Mexican Cuino pigs fed ad libitum a conventional diet.


Materials and methods 

Fourteen Mexican Cuino pigs were used after ending a trial for evaluating the pattern of feed intake (Lemus et al 2009). The evaluated animals were seven female and seven castrate male pigs which were fed ad libitum during 16 weeks on a conventional diet. The diet (table 1) was given in meal form and was based on maize and soybean meal plus vitamins and minerals (NRC 1998).

Table 1.  Characteristics of the experimental diet


Per cent in dry basis

Maize meal


Soybean meal




Dicalcium phosphate




Vitamins and trace elements1


Determined analysis


Dry matter




Organic matter


Crude protein (N x 6.25)


1 According to NRC (1998) requirements

The diet contained on average, 14.2% crude protein (N x 6.25). The proximate compositions of the test ingredients and diets were determined by the method of AOAC (1995). The DM concentration in feed was determined by duplicate in a microwave radiation oven (Undersander et al 1993) until attaining constant weight.


The pigs were individually housed in cement floored pens located in a closed building. Every pen was provided by individual troughs and drinking nipples. Pigs were weighed the day before the conduction of the trial and resulting average live weight was 59.6 kg. The pattern of feed intake was determined by trained personnel twice within one week, in days selected at random. Pig troughs were cleaned from feed refusal from the previous day and thereafter feeding behavior was continuously recorded during two hours after the supply of new feed at 9:00 a.m. Measurements were recorded following the procedure suggested by Falius and Gries (1969), as described by Díaz et al (2005).  Briefly, according to the Falius and Griess (1969) methodology, one minute was considered the minimum time for separation of one meal from the other.  Then, meal size resulted from the total amount of feed eaten divided by number of visits to the trough. Eating rate was calculated as the result of dividing the total amount of feed eating in two hours into total min spent eating. Average air temperature during the month of conduction of the trial (June 2008), may be as high as 35ºC in the middle of the day, in Nayarit, which is a Mexican State characterized by a warm, sub-humid climate (INEGI 2000).


Data concerning feed intake pattern were analyzed with the GLM procedure of SAS (2002). An individual pig was used as the experimental unit, and then two replications of feed intake indices were evaluated per individual. The data were analyzed as a one way classification (Steel and Torrie 1980).


Results and discussion 

Feed consumption during the two hours of observation accounted for 91.5 and 94.8% of dry feed offered to castrate male and female Cuino pigs in this order (overall average, 93.2%); therefore, it was considered that during the session of measurements, there was no constraint of animals for voluntary feed intake. During this two hours period of observation, it was found that level of feed intake accounted for 35.2 and 35.3 g/kg live weight in castrate male and female individuals, in this order. There was no significant (p>0.05) effect of sex on overall feed consumption during this period. Several traits of the pattern of feed intake are shown in Table 2. There was a significant effect (at least, p<0.05) of treatment on several indices of balance of feed, either in fresh or in dry basis. On the other hand, it was observed that visits to the trough were significantly (p<0.05) higher in female than in castrate male pigs, and the same effect appeared to be true for visits to the drinker (p<0.10). On the other hand, females spent less time eating than the castrate male animals (p<0.01). As a consequence, meal size was significantly small (p<0.05) in female than in castrate male pigs, and eating rate exhibited a rather strong sex effect (p<0.01).


Average eating rate was 41.3 and 72.4 g/min in dry basis, for castrate male and female individuals, respectively. These values were rather higher than that found by Renaudeau et al (2005) for Guadeloupean and Large White young pigs, 23.6 and 33.6 g/min, respectively, therefore indicating a possible difference in eating rate not only between local and improved pigs (Quiniou et al 1999; Renaudeau et al 2005), but among different types of creole animals. Nevertheless other factors not of direct genetic origin, such as the nature of the feed offered to animals, could be involved in the resulting eating rate of pigs. In this connection, Díaz et al (2005) reported values of eating rate as low as some 9-15 g feed/min in young creole and improved 30 kg male pigs fed on a variety of feedstuffs currently available in Cuba. Very few information concerning the effect of sex, and perhaps of live weight, on feeding behavior quantitative traits of creole pigs is available, and according to the data herein reported, more research related to this aspect is needed. 

Table 2.  Effect of sex on the pattern of feed intake in Mexican Cuino pigs (mean and standard error) during two consecutive hours of the morning


Castrate males


Number of animals



Live weight, kg

57.8 ± 2.9

61.5 ± 9.8

Time eating, min

49.3 ± 3.7

30.0 ± 4.8**

Visits to the trough

3.5 ± 0.5

5.3 ± 0.6*

Visits to the drinker

3.2 ± 0.5

5.2 ± 1.0+

Balance, g in natura




2 393 ± 85.8

2 464 ± 128.0


89.6 ± 26.1

119.0 ± 50.7

Feed eaten

2 203 ± 81.2

2 345 ± 128.4

Meal size

629.5 ± 67.7

442.5 ± 47.6*

Eating rate, g/min

44.7 ± 5.8

78.2 ± 4.1**

Balance, g dry matter




2 226 ± 79.7

2 292 ± 119.1


189.8 ± 55.1

119.0 ± 50.7

Feed eaten

2 036 ± 76.6

2 173 ± 120.2

Meal size

582 ± 62.5

395 ± 42.4*

Eating rate, g/min

41.3 ± 5.4

72.4 ± 3.9**

+ p<0.10; * p<0.05; ** p<0.01

The frequency of feed consumption is presented in Figure 1. A very clear difference in feeding behavior between castrate male and female Cuino pigs was evident. Female animals tended to eat as soon as the offered feed was available, whereas a very clear second peak of eating activity, between 100 and 110 min of recording, was evident in castrate male individuals.

Time, minutes

Figure 1.   Frequency of feed intake in Mexican Cuino pigs. Effect of sex

Renaudeau et al (2005) found two peaks of eating activity in conventional and local, Guadeloupean pigs. However, these two sharply separated peaks were observed during a 24 hours cycle, the first of those being about 8 a.m., then in accordance with the selected period of the day herein reported, and the other at the end of the diurnal hours of the daily cycle. Díaz et al (2010) provided information indicating that the peak of feeding activity in Cuban Creole pigs showed a maximum about 9 am., since in that moment, pig consumption accounted for some 69.7% of the total daily consumed feed. A somewhat equivalent amount of feed which was eaten between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., 69.1% of daily consumption, was reported by Peralta et al (2008) in Pelón Mexicano pigs given diets ad libitum. In this connection, the total amount fed between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the present investigation, which was in turn some 80% of the total daily amount of feed ingested, are more in agreement to Díaz et al (2010) and Peralta et al (2008) data than to those values reported by Renaudeau et al (2005). The explanation for these divergent findings is not apparent, although differences in breed, environment and feeding conditions could be herein implied.


Meal size determined in the present investigation was affected by sex of Cuino pigs. In this connection, Peralta et al (2008) observed that castrate male Pelón Mexicano pigs had a meal size as high as 523 g. This value is between the range of values found for Cuino pigs, but higher than that reported by Díaz et al (2010) for Cuban Creole pigs, 420 g. In this connection, differences in meal size could be affected to some extent by body metabolic size of the animals (Gourdine et al 2006).




Financial support for the research project was provided by the COCYTEN-NAYARIT-2006-C01-66170 fund. 



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Received 26 April 2010; Accepted 10 June 2010; Published 1 August 2010

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