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Piglet Enrichments Early in Life Leads to Benefits Later On

19 February 2016
Manitoba Pork Council

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A research scientist with the Prairie Swine Centre says providing piglets various forms of enrichment very early in life will lower stress at weaning leading to improved productivity later on and reduce negative behaviors such as tail biting.

Canada revised Pig Code of Practice encourages swine producers to enrich the environments of their pigs.

As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists is examining the potential benefits of enrichment.

Dr. Jenifer Brown, a Research Scientist Ethology with the Prairie Swine Center, says the code requires enrichment for all animals which would include piglets.

Clip-Dr. Jenifer Brown-Prairie Swine Center:

Quite a bit of research has been done on enrichment at weaning and certainly there we see clear benefits in reduced aggression when pigs are mixed at weaning and then also reduced fear responses later on.

And certainly we do also find that providing young animals with enrichment helps in reducing those destructive vices, tail biting, that sort of thing later on so clearly some benefits can be found in piglets and they're actually very easy to provide enrichment to.

It could be in the form of dog toys or chunks of PVC pipe.

At Prairie Swine Centre we've used cotton ropes so you can suspend cotton ropes in the pen and we tie knots in them.

We use cotton because it doesn't hurt them if they ingest a little piece of it but certainly for all enrichments you have to ensure that they are safe for animals and if they do ingest them it's not going to cause any harm.

So they need to be safe and then also safe for the liquid manure systems.

You need to make sure this is not something that's going to end up in your pits and cause any problems that way.

Dr. Brown notes pigs are highly precocial animals, ready to learn at birth so there it is never too early provide them enrichments.

ThePigSite News Desk

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