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Behav Processes. 2017 Sep;142:146-155. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

From minutes to days-The ability of sows (Sus scrofa) to estimate time intervals.

Author information

1
Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO, Agroscope, Tänikon, CH-8356 Ettenhausen, Switzerland; Animal Behaviour, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
2
Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO, Agroscope, Tänikon, CH-8356 Ettenhausen, Switzerland. Electronic address: lorenz.gygax@agroscope.admin.ch.

Abstract

Time estimation helps allocating time to different tasks and to plan behavioural sequences. It may also be relevant to animal welfare if it enables animals assessing the duration of a negative situation. Here, we investigated the ability of dry sows to estimate short and long time periods. We used a variant of the peak-interval procedure and the choice between 2 resources of different quality and replenishment rates to assess time periods in the order of minutes and days, respectively. In the minute-experiment, the sows were trained to expect an interruption while feeding at the end of an interval. Heart rate and heart rate variability slightly and continuously increased and decreased, respectively, towards the end of that interval. In the day-experiment, lasting about 60days, the sows were increasingly more likely to open the door to a high food reward on the correct day when this food reward was presented every fifth day. We conclude that the sows learnt to estimate time intervals of 5days after lengthy training but did not accurately learn intervals in the range of minutes. Therefore, they might re-visit replenishing resources after several days, but may not base short-term decisions solely on the passing of time.

KEYWORDS:

Day; Minute; Peak-interval procedure; Renewable resource; Sow; Time estimation

PMID:
28735073
DOI:
10.1016/j.beproc.2017.07.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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