Damaging Behaviour and Associated Lesions in Relation to Types of Enrichment for Finisher Pigs on Commercial Farms
Department of Animal Biosciences, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, D04 W6F6 Dublin, Ireland
Pig Development Department, Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, P61 C996 Co. Cork, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 July 2019 / Revised: 5 September 2019 / Accepted: 5 September 2019 / Published: 12 September 2019
EU legislation states that all pigs must have access to material that allows them to perform investigation and manipulation activities. This reduces the risk of pigs performing damaging behaviours (e.g., tail, ear and flank biting). The aim of this study was to determine associations between damaging behaviours performed by finisher pigs, the related lesions and the use of different types of enrichment. Finisher pigs were observed on 31 commercial pig farms in Ireland and the number of pigs affected by tail, ear and flank lesions as well as all occurrences of damaging behaviour (tail-, ear- and flank-directed behaviour) were recorded. The type (chain, plastic or wood) of enrichment provided was noted; chains were the most common (41.4% of farms), followed by plastic (37.9%) and wood (20.7%). Damaging behaviour was more frequent on farms that provided chains compared to plastic or wood, particularly tail- and flank-directed behaviour was affected. The prevalence of lesions tended to be higher on farms where chains were provided compared to wooden enrichment devices. This was due to a higher prevalence of mild tail lesions on farms using chains. Results suggest that despite chains being commonly used, they did not fulfill their role in reducing damaging behaviours and associated lesions in finisher pigs.