Next Article in Journal
Intestinal Morphometry, Enzymatic and Microbial Activity in Laying Hens Fed Different Levels of a Hermetia illucens Larvae Meal and Toxic Elements Content of the Insect Meal and Diets
Next Article in Special Issue
Effect of Different Environment Enrichments on Behaviour and Social Interactions in Growing Pigs
Previous Article in Journal
The Use of Infrared Thermography (IRT) as Stress Indicator in Horses Trained for Endurance: A Pilot Study
Previous Article in Special Issue
Tail Posture as an Indicator of Tail Biting in Undocked Finishing Pigs
Article Menu
Issue 3 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Animals 2019, 9(3), 85;

Growing Pigs’ Interest in Enrichment Objects with Different Characteristics and Cleanliness

Département des sciences animales, Université Laval, 2425 rue de l’Agriculture, Québec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
Department of Animal Biosciences, Animal Science and Nutrition, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre, 2000 College Street, Sherbrooke, QC J1M 0C8, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 January 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 2 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment of Pigs)
PDF [1148 KB, uploaded 8 March 2019]

Simple Summary

The modern swine industry is mostly based on an intensive production model that has evolved under economic pressure and has shaped rearing facilities around production optimization rather than the natural needs of pigs. Barren rearing spaces for growing pigs do not allow them to fully express their natural behaviors (e.g., rooting and chewing). This can lead to the emergence of abnormal behaviors, such as tail-biting which causes stress to the animals, and potential financial loss. A simple strategy to allow pigs to express their natural behaviors is to add enrichment objects to the rearing environment. However, pigs tend to lose interest in the objects rapidly. The characteristics of an object, such as the degree of cleanliness and malleability of the material used, can significantly increase its attractiveness. This study first compared seven different objects based on the level of manipulation received from growing pigs. A block of dried wood that was presented on the floor had the longest manipulation time. Secondly, four objects were compared for their level of cleanliness or wear and no differences in manipulation were found between objects that were cleaned or replaced daily and objects that were not cleaned or replaced (for a period of five days).


Enrichment objects can be a practical way to provide rooting and chewing material to growing pigs, on which they can express species-specific behaviors. The challenge is to provide enrichment objects that will satisfy pigs’ behavioral needs, while being practical and low-cost for the producers. Two trials were conducted to evaluate the effects of object characteristics such as design, location, cleanliness or degree of wear, on pigs’ interest over time. The first trial compared seven objects, varying in their design and location, presented individually for five consecutive days to groups of 12 ± 3 (average ± SD) pigs, weighing 61 ± 9.2 kg. The pigs’ interest in the objects was evaluated based on the frequency, total duration and mean length of manipulation with the objects. All objects were manipulated at different levels depending on their characteristics. On average, the pigs interacted more frequently (p < 0.001) with a chewable object made of three polyurethane balls, spring-mounted and anchored to the floor, and spent more time manipulating a dried wood beam on the floor (p < 0.05), which was destructible and chewable, than suspended ropes, plastics and rubber objects, and a plastic ball on the floor. The second trial used two-choice preference tests to compare objects varying in their degree of cleanliness or wear, presented in pairs to growing pigs weighing 47 ± 7 kg and housed in groups of 14 ± 1. Two identical objects were placed simultaneously in a pen over 5 days, and only one of them was cleaned or replaced daily (treatment) while the duplicate was left untouched (control). The results showed no clear preference between control and treatment objects, indicating that short-term maintenance of the objects might be unnecessary. View Full-Text
Keywords: fattening pigs; pig behavior; animal welfare; environmental enrichment fattening pigs; pig behavior; animal welfare; environmental enrichment

Figure 1

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).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Beaudoin, J.-M.; Bergeron, R.; Devillers, N.; Laforest, J.-P. Growing Pigs’ Interest in Enrichment Objects with Different Characteristics and Cleanliness. Animals 2019, 9, 85.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top