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The behaviour of sows in tether stalls with and without straw was studied in two experiments. Sows lay down more when 1 kg of straw was provided daily, especially when it was chopped and mixed wet with the food (dietary effect). Sows without straw performed a variety of stereotyped oral and other activities which were greatly reduced by the provision of loose straw that could be chewed and manipulated throughout the day (recreational effect). Sows were frequently seen standing or sitting motionless with the head drooping, probably in a state of drowsiness. This behaviour was virtually eliminated by full straw bedding (bedding effect). Certain 'comfort movements', bar-biting at feeding time, and biting the neighbouring sows, were not influenced by straw. It is concluded that the dietary, recreational and bedding aspects of straw are all significant, but influence different aspects of the animals' behaviour. The significance of bar-biting and other activities is discussed.


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