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Pen Enrichments Stimulate Pigs Natural Behaviour

14 May 2015
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - A researcher with the Saskatoon based Prairie Swine Centre says that by placing different objects in the pen, pork producers will be providing an outlet that will stimulate the pig's natural desire to seek out food, to root and to explore, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Under Canada's revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, those who raise pigs are required to provide multiple forms of environmental enrichment.

Dr Yolande Seddon, a research scientist ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, notes the code outlines what's considered as acceptable enrichments.

Dr Yolande Seddon-Prairie Swine Centre:

This can be social enrichments, so when ever the pigs can see or hear another pig.

This can also be a physical enrichment, so have we altered the pen environment so the pig can manipulate an object in particular.

This can be sensory, have we provided tactile stimulation for the pig in the pen, have we provided smells, sights, sounds and also occupational, can the pig manipulate an object.

Under the physical as well, I think, is physical alteration of the pen.

For instance in electronic sow feeding systems, leaving the bedroom areas, creating a separate lying area could be classed as a physical enrichment in the pen.

In terms of what is more commonly seen as environmental enrichment is actually addition of objects to stimulate normal and natural behaviors in the animal.

We could says, for pigs, we know that they in the wild would spend over 50 percent of their time rooting around foraging for food so we have very strong motivation to provide this behavior.

Even though we feed them adlib in a grower facility they are still motivated to seek out food and perform rooting.

If we can provide them with objects in the pens to root, to chew, to explore, to learn about their environment we will be providing an outlet for that behavior.

Dr Seddon says a wide variety of objects can be used but it's important to make sure they are safe for the pigs to manipulate and chew and they should be anchored to ensure they don't end up in the dunging area because once that happens the pigs won't touch them.

ThePigSite News Desk

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