Recently, foraging strategies have been linked to the ability to use indirect visual information. More selective feeders should express a higher aversion against losses compared to non-selective feeders and should therefore be more prone to avoid empty food locations. To extend these findings, in this study, we present a series of studies investigating the use of direct and indirect visual and auditory information by an omnivorous but selective feeder—the domestic pig. Subjects had to choose between two buckets, with only one containing a reward. Before making a choice, the subjects in Experiment 1 (N = 8) received full information regarding both the baited and non-baited location, either in a visual or auditory domain. In this experiment, the subjects were able to use visual but not auditory cues to infer the location of the reward spontaneously. Additionally, four individuals learned to use auditory cues after a period of training. In Experiment 2 (N = 8), the pigs were given different amounts of visual information about the content of the buckets—lifting either both of the buckets (full information), the baited bucket (direct information), the empty bucket (indirect information) or no bucket at all (no information). The subjects as a group were able to use direct and indirect visual cues. However, over the course of the experiment, the performance dropped to chance level when indirect information was provided. A final experiment (N = 3) provided preliminary results for pigs’ use of indirect auditory information to infer the location of a reward. We conclude that pigs at a very young age are able to make decisions based on indirect information in the visual domain, whereas their performance in the use of indirect auditory information warrants further investigation.
Domestic pig Exclusion performance Object choice Indirect information
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
We would like to thank Heike Stegmayr for drawing the set-up and Jan Langbein for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We are grateful for the comments of two anonymous reviewers which improved the manuscript significantly.
Albiach-Serrano A, Bräuer J, Cacchione T et al (2012a) The effect of domestication and ontogeny in swine cognition (Sus scrofa scrofa and S. s. domestica). Appl Anim Behav Sci 141:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Albiach-Serrano A, Bugnyar T, Call J (2012b) Apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pan paniscus, P. troglodytes, Pongo abelii) versus corvids (Corvus corax, C. corone) in a support task: the effect of pattern and functionality. J Comp Psychol 126:355–367. doi:10.1037/a0028050CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Cunningham HM, Friend DW, Nicholson JWG (1962) The effect of age, body weight, feed intake and adaptability of pigs on the digestibility and nutritive value of cellulose. Can J Anim Sci 42:167–175. doi:10.4141/cjas62-027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dierick NA, Vervaeke IJ, Demeyer DI, Decuypere JA (1989) Approach to the energetic importance of fibre digestion in pigs. I. Importance of fermentation in the overall energy supply. Anim Feed Sci Technol 23:141–167. doi:10.1016/0377-8401(89)90095-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ehle FR, Jeraci JL, Robertson JB, Van Soest PJ (1982) The influence of dietary fiber on digestibility, rate of passage and gastrointestinal fermentation in pigs. J Anim Ethics 55:1071–1081Google Scholar
Taylor AH, Knaebe B, Gray RD (2012) An end to insight? New Caledonian crows can spontaneously solve problems without planning their actions. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 279:4977–4981. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Udell MAR, Dorey NR, Wynne CDL (2008) Wolves outperform dogs in following human social cues. Anim Behav 76:1767–1773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Umberto A (2007) Pigs and humans. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar