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The Effects of Environmental Enrichment on the Physiology, Behaviour, Productivity and Meat Quality of Pigs Raised in a Hot Climate
Open AccessReview

Providing Effective Environmental Enrichment to Pigs: How Far Have We Come?

1
Cerebrus Associates Ltd., The White House, 2 Meadrow, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3HN, UK
2
World Animal Protection, 222 Grays Inn Road, 5th Floor, London WC1X 8HB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050254
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 21 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment of Pigs)
The welfare of farmed pigs can be improved by modifying their environment with bedding, substrates, or objects, so that they can perform more of their pig-specific behaviours. Scientific knowledge on effective enrichment for pigs is not necessarily reaching farms and this paper provides an overview of this issue in the three largest global pork producing regions. In the USA, enrichment has not yet appeared on farms, except when required by higher welfare farm schemes. China hardly has any animal welfare legislation and food safety concerns restrict the use of enrichment on farms. Providing pig enrichment is required by law in EU Member States. In practice, enrichment is not always present, or is unsuitable or inadequate. Other risks to animal welfare include inadequate presentation, location, quantity and size, and maintenance of enrichment. Improvements can be made by applying principles from other fields of behavioural science; welfare knowledge transfer and training to farms; highlighting the economic benefits of effective enrichment; increasing pressure from the financial sector; using novel drivers of change, such as public benchmarking. The poor implementation of scientific knowledge on farms suggests that the industry has not fully embraced the benefits of effective enrichment.
Science has defined the characteristics of effective environmental enrichment for pigs. We provide an overview of progress towards the provision of pig enrichment in the three largest global pork producing regions. In the USA, enrichment has not yet featured on the policy agenda, nor appeared on farms, except when required by certain farm assurance schemes. China has very limited legal animal welfare provisions and public awareness of animal welfare is very low. Food safety concerns severely restrict the use of substrates (as enrichment) on farms. Providing enrichment to pigs is a legal requirement in the EU. In practice, enrichment is not present, or simple (point-source) objects are provided which have no enduring value. Other common issues are the provision of non-effective or hazardous objects, inadequate presentation, location, quantity and size or inadequate maintenance of enrichment. Improvements can be made by applying principles from the field of experimental analysis of behaviour to evaluate the effectiveness of enrichment; providing welfare knowledge transfer, including training and advisory services; highlighting the economic benefits of effective enrichment and focusing on return on investment; increasing pressure from the financial sector; using novel drivers of change, such as public business benchmarking. The poor implementation of scientific knowledge on farms suggests that the pig industry has not fully embraced the benefits of effective enrichment and is still a long way off achieving an enriched pig population. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental enrichment; farming; pigs; sows; welfare; barriers to implementation; USA; China; EU environmental enrichment; farming; pigs; sows; welfare; barriers to implementation; USA; China; EU
MDPI and ACS Style

van de Weerd, H.; Ison, S. Providing Effective Environmental Enrichment to Pigs: How Far Have We Come? Animals 2019, 9, 254.

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