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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Individual play patterns stimulated by a familiar object are group-driven

Zupan, Manja; Rehn, Therese; de Oliveira, Daiana; Malovrh, Spela; Keeling, Linda


This study investigates the dynamics of play behaviour within groups of four juvenile pigs and uses a novel clustering and statistical modelling approach to describe new details in how individuals play with a familiar object (toy rope). We examined complex state sequence data collected during a 30 min home pen play test, using the package TraMineR, where the states were defined as object play, locomotor/social play and no play. From behavioural observations, and based on the relative proportion of the different types of object play observed, each individual was later categorised as an initiator or joiner type of player. Initiators were found to be more solitary and to show more object play whereas joiners were more social and showed less object play. The majority of groups did not have an initiator type of player, yet on average they played more. Despite strong group and type of player effects, we identified three general individual play patterns. On a group level, our results demonstrate differences in how a period of playing develops, that playing with the object simultaneously occurs more often in groups than expected by chance and that the number of pigs playing together is stable over time.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2019, Volume: 9, article number: 6092Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP