Danish Pig Research Centre Annual Report 2012: Rooting & Enrichment Materials

Researchers at the Pig Research Centre share their experiences of providing straw and other materials for rooting and environmental enrichment to pigs of all ages.
calendar icon 8 August 2013
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Wood on a chain placed on the floor meets the requirement for rooting and enrichment material in all sections

Rooting and Enrichment Materials

As the transition period for rooting and enrichment materials ended in 2012, all pigs must now have permanent access to rooting and enrichment materials.

This obviously also applies to sows in service/ control facilities and farrowing facilities, regardless of age and design of the facility.


Dispensers for finely chopped straw and straw pellets were developed in cooperation with Ikadan Systems A/S specifically for lactating sows, including piglets, and weaners, respectively.

Rope assures piglets of rooting and enrichment

The dispenser for lactating sows was set up in four farrowing pens and monitored in eight batches. Consumption varied from 0.5 to 3.5kg per sow with an average of 0.8kg. Dispensers were refilled twice during lactation but this also varied.

The dispenser for weaners was set up in four weaner pens and monitored over five batches. In the period 7 to 30kg, consumption averaged 2.1kg straw pellets per weaner. The dispenser was typically refilled once or twice a week.

Gestation and Service Facilities

The requirement for bedding on the solid floor for group-housed gestating sows ensures that the requirement for rooting and enrichment material is met in this facility.

This machine dispenses bedding for sows in crates; it is recommended that straw be dispensed behind the trough

Automatic refilling of straw with the JH Mini-Strø dispenser was investigated in a service/control facility with crates and a gestation facility with nesting boxes and electronic sow feeding (ESF).

Results demonstrated that:

  • In the service/control facility, it is recommended to supply straw between feedings.
  • In the gestation facility with group-housed sows and ESF, where the feed day starts at midnight, it may be an advantage to supply straw in the afternoon.
  • When slurry pits had been emptied, high-pressure washing was necessary in the service/control facility as large amounts of straw had passed through the pits.

Pigs’ consumption of and need for straw varies greatly within the same brand of straw rack

Straw Racks for Finishers and Sows

Straw racks are currently being investigated on a finisher farm where pigs are fed in long troughs and straw racks are placed above the liquid feed trough.

In a facility for group-housed gestating sows, a straw rack is placed in each nesting box. The aim is to investigate the function and use of the straw racks.

August 2013

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