Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Kune Kune piglets learn from each other, study suggests
Free-ranging Kune Kune piglets watch and copy tasks demonstrated by their mother or aunt.

Researchers believe talent relates to how they are kept

Kune Kune pigs learn from each other and can remember demonstrated techniques, new research suggests.

The study, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, found that free-ranging Kune Kune piglets watch and copy tasks demonstrated by their mother or aunt. Furthermore, researchers found that Kune Kune piglets can recall observed tasks up to 24 hours later.

In the study, researchers sought to demonstrate social learning through the "vertical transmission of information" - i.e. passing on of knowledge to the next generation. The task involved opening the sliding door of a box to get a piece of food. The pigs could use their snout to move the door into one of thee positions: left, right or middle.

Eighteen piglets were divided into three groups. While two groups observed their mother or aunt as they used the opening techniques, the third group had to work out the task without observation. This ensured there was no predisposition or bias regarding the movement of the sliding door.

Researchers found that the non-observer piglets used all possible techniques to open the door, confirming there was no predisposition or bias. Conversely, the observer piglets displayed learning behaviour through observation.

Interestingly, the piglets produced the best results when they were not tested for the learning effect until the next day. The researchers said that only rarely, and never before among pigs, has this remarkable behaviour been demonstrated among animals.


The authors of the study believe the talent for social learning among Kune Kune pigs relates to how they are kept:

“The pigs live in natural family groups under free-ranging conditions. This appears to trigger an existing aptitude for social intelligence among these animals,” the authors write. “It would be worthwhile to consider the positive effects of learning from older animals in commercial pig farming, for example when making improvements to the housing conditions.”

The study, Object movement re-enactment in free-ranging Kune Kune piglets, was led by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Gucci pledges to go fur-free

News Story 1
 Italian fashion house Gucci has announced that it will no longer use animal fur in its designs. Gucci’s president & CEO Marco Bizzarri made the announcement on Wednesday (October 11) at The London College of Fashion.

The move follows a long-standing relationship with The Humane Society of the United States and LAV - members of the international Fur Free alliance. Gucci’s fur-free policy includes mink, coyote, raccoon dog, fox, rabbit, karakul and all other species bred or caught for fur.  

News Shorts
Avian flu text alert service launched in Northern Ireland

A new text system to alert bird keepers to the threat of avian flu has been launched in Northern Ireland. The service will enable bird keepers to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

Keepers who have already provided NI's Department of Agriculture with a valid mobile number have automatically been subscribed to the service and notified by text. Bird keepers who have not yet received a text should text ‘BIRDS’ to 67300 to register.