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Animals 2018, 8(5), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050074

Enrichment in the Sucker and Weaner Phase Altered the Performance of Pigs in Three Behavioural Tests

1
Animal Welfare Science Centre, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia
2
Animal Welfare Science Centre, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia
3
Faculty of Science, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, 425 Werombi Road, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 5 May 2018 / Published: 14 May 2018
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Abstract

We tested the hypothesis that provision of enrichment in the form of enrichment blocks during the sucker and weaner phases would affect the behaviour of pigs. We measured the performance of pigs in an open field/novel object test, a maze test, an executive function test and the cortisol response of the pigs after exposure to an open field test. The provision of enrichment blocks altered the behaviour of the pigs in all three tests and these changes suggest an increased willingness to explore and possibly an increased ability to learn. The behavioural tests highlighted that young pigs have the capacity to learn complex tasks. Our findings support the notion that the benefits of enrichment cannot be evaluated by measuring the interactions the animal has with the enrichments in the home pen and it may simply be beneficial to live in a more complex environment. We have highlighted that the early rearing environment is important and that the management and husbandry at an early age can have long-term implications for pigs. The enrichment we used in this study was very simple, an enrichment block, and we provide evidence suggesting the provision of enrichment effected pig behavioural responses. Even the simplest of enrichments may have benefits for the welfare and development of young pigs and there is merit in developing enrichment devices that are suitable for use in pig production. View Full-Text
Keywords: enrichment block; early life experience; pig welfare enrichment block; early life experience; pig welfare
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Ralph, C.; Hebart, M.; Cronin, G.M. Enrichment in the Sucker and Weaner Phase Altered the Performance of Pigs in Three Behavioural Tests. Animals 2018, 8, 74.

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