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Effect of Different Environment Enrichments on Behaviour and Social Interactions in Growing Pigs

Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa, Viale delle Piagge, 2, 56124 Pisa, Italy
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Animals 2019, 9(3), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030101
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment of Pigs)
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Simple Summary

Pigs reared under intensive conditions are subjected to environmental stresses such as being unable to express some natural behaviours, like socialisation, exploring and rooting. For this reason, EU legislation requires farmers to employ suitable environmental enrichments in the pens. This study aimed at evaluating how different environmental enrichment tools (wooden logs either hanging or laying and hanging metal chains in pens) affected the behaviour of growing pigs. The results show a reduction in the incidence of aggressive/damaging interactions between animals in the pen where hanging wooden logs were placed. No significant effect on non-aggressive behaviours was noted in any of the investigated conditions.

Abstract

(1) Background: Pigs are active animals that require a suitable environment to be able to express their exploratory behaviour. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of different environmental enrichments on the behaviour, social interactions, salivary cortisol concentration and body weight of pigs during the growing phase. (2) Methods: The investigation involved 75 pigs divided into three groups. The environmental enrichments were arranged as follows: Hanging metal chains for the control group; hanging metal chains and hanging logs for the second group; hanging metal chains and logs laying on the floor for the third group. Each group was video recorded twice a week for six weeks. The scan sampling technique was used. Salivary cortisol and live body weight were also recorded regularly. Parametric (ANOVA) and non-parametric statistics were used to analyse the data. (3) Results: Hanging logs were found to be more effective than logs laying on the floor at reducing aggression within the group tested, resulting in a more comfortable environment. Salivary cortisol concentration and growth did not show significant differences between the three groups. (4) Conclusions: The use of hanging logs affected some interactive patterns that resulted in decreasing the aggressive episodes of pigs, thereby providing a more comfortable environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: pig; environmental enrichment; behaviour; social interactions pig; environmental enrichment; behaviour; social interactions
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Giuliotti, L.; Benvenuti, M.N.; Giannarelli, A.; Mariti, C.; Gazzano, A. Effect of Different Environment Enrichments on Behaviour and Social Interactions in Growing Pigs. Animals 2019, 9, 101.

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