Behaviour of Pigs in Relation to Housing Environment

A topical collection in Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This collection belongs to the section "Pigs".

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Editor


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behaviour, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany
Interests: pig; swine; rabbit; farm animal behavior; animal behavior; ethology; animal welfare

Topical Collection Information

A precise knowledge of animal behavior is a prerequisite for assessing animal welfare in modern farming systems. Despite increasing interest in this research field in recent years, there are still many questions to be answered, especially with regard to pigs’ behavior and welfare. Current problems such as tail biting or piglet crushing still have to be solved, and the impact of the pigs’ environment on their behavior and welfare should be further elucidated, aiming to increase animal welfare. Therefore, more research on pig behavior in different (housing) environments is necessary, and the relation of behavioral aspects to stress and welfare needs to be explored. There may also be ways to positively influence pigs’ behavior and welfare, for example, by new methods of environmental enrichment, using also the pigs’ cognitive abilities. This Special Issue focuses on new insights into the behavior and welfare of pigs depending on their environment. For that, animals’ housing and social environment can be considered. Research papers on domestic pigs in intensive livestock systems are as welcome as studies from free-ranging or other alternative systems. Research articles on wild boars are also encouraged when investigating fundamental environmental influences on their behavior and welfare.

Dr. Michaela Fels
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • swine
  • domestic pig
  • wild boar
  • behavior
  • welfare
  • environment
  • housing

Published Papers (19 papers)

2024

Jump to: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020

14 pages, 1453 KiB  
Article
Effects of Two Different Methods of Teeth Grinding on Dental Injuries, Skin Lesions, Growth and Behaviour of Suckling Piglets Compared to a Non-Treated Control Group
by Carolin Bernarda Timphaus, Franziska Anna kleine Kruthaup, Fritjof Freise, Swetlana Herbrandt, Elisabeth große Beilage and Michaela Fels
Animals 2024, 14(9), 1318; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14091318 - 28 Apr 2024
Viewed by 449
Abstract
Teeth grinding in suckling piglets is performed on many farms to protect the piglets’ littermates and the sow’s udder from injuries caused by the piglets’ canines and third incisors. In this study, the effects of two teeth-grinding methods on the piglets’ dental health [...] Read more.
Teeth grinding in suckling piglets is performed on many farms to protect the piglets’ littermates and the sow’s udder from injuries caused by the piglets’ canines and third incisors. In this study, the effects of two teeth-grinding methods on the piglets’ dental health and welfare were investigated. The piglets of a litter were evenly assigned to a treatment: one-third of littermates were ground with a roller grinding head (RG), one-third with a teacup grinding head (TCG), and one-third were not ground at all (CG). A random sample of 100 animals each from the RG and TCG treatment was examined for tooth injuries, i.e., dental pulp openings. Additionally, behavioural analysis was performed (n = 650 piglets), and skin lesions, growth and mortality were determined (n = 1565 piglets). TCG piglets had a lower risk (p < 0.001) of pulp opening than RG piglets (0.08 ± 0.31 vs. 2.67 ± 1.67 opened pulps per piglet). Mortality, growth, skin lesions and behaviour of piglets were not influenced by treatment (p > 0.05). This study showed that both teeth-grinding methods led to pulp openings. If teeth grinding cannot be avoided on a farm, using the teacup grinding head is recommended concerning animal health and welfare. Full article
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2023

Jump to: 2024, 2022, 2021, 2020

15 pages, 2372 KiB  
Article
Feeding Behavior of Finishing Pigs under Diurnal Cyclic Heat Stress
by Marllon José Karpeggiane de Oliveira, Marcio Valk, Antônio Diego Brandão Melo, Danilo Alves Marçal, Cleslei Alisson Silva, Graziela Alves da Cunha Valini, Pedro Righetti Arnaut, Joseane Penteado Rosa Gonçalves, Ines Andretta and Luciano Hauschild
Animals 2023, 13(5), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13050908 - 2 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1604
Abstract
The impact of cyclic heat stress (CHS) and turning the lights on and off on pig feeding behavior (FB) was investigated. The FB of 90 gilts was recorded in real-time under two ambient temperatures (AT): thermoneutrality (TN, 22 °C) or CHS (22/35 °C). [...] Read more.
The impact of cyclic heat stress (CHS) and turning the lights on and off on pig feeding behavior (FB) was investigated. The FB of 90 gilts was recorded in real-time under two ambient temperatures (AT): thermoneutrality (TN, 22 °C) or CHS (22/35 °C). The day was divided into four periods: PI (06–08 h); PII (08–18 h); PIII (18–20 h); and PIV (20–06 h). Automatic and Intelligent Precision Feeders recorded each feed event for each pig. An estimated meal criterion (49 min) was used to calculate the FB variables. Feed behavior in both ATs followed a circadian pattern. The CHS reduced the feed intake by 6.9%. The pigs prioritized feed intake during the coolest hours of the day; however, nocturnal cooling did not allow the pigs to compensate for the reduced meal size due to CHS. The highest meal size and most of the meals were observed during the lighting-on period. The pigs reduced their interval between meals during PII and PIII. The lighting program increased the meal size when the lights were switched on and reduced the meal size when the lights were switched off. Thus, the dynamics of the FB were largely influenced by AT, whereas the meal size was affected by the lighting program. Full article
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10 pages, 675 KiB  
Article
The Role of Environmental Enrichment and Back Fat Depth in the Intensity of Aggressive Behavior Performed by Sows during the Establishment of the Dominance Hierarchy
by Maria Costanza Galli, Martyna E. Lagoda, Flaviana Gottardo, Barbara Contiero and Laura A. Boyle
Animals 2023, 13(5), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13050825 - 24 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1154
Abstract
For sows introduced into new groups, the aggressive behavior associated with establishing a social hierarchy represents a period of severe stress. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of providing sows with an improved pen environment (straw in racks and [...] Read more.
For sows introduced into new groups, the aggressive behavior associated with establishing a social hierarchy represents a period of severe stress. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of providing sows with an improved pen environment (straw in racks and ropes) on aggressive behavior after mixing and to understand the role played by sow back fat thickness and parity order. At 29 d post-service, sows were mixed into IMPROVED or CONTROL pens with individual feeding stalls (6 groups/treatment, 20 sows/group). Aggressive behavior was recorded for 2 h at mixing (T0) and 24 h (T1) and 3 weeks post-mixing (T21). Overall, the sows in the CONTROL pens performed more fighting behavior compared to the IMPROVED sows (p < 0.001). This difference was significant only at T21 (p < 0.001). Additionally, the sows in the CONTROL pens generally initiated more aggressive behaviors than the sows in the IMPROVED pens (p = 0.02). The sows with a low back fat thickness initiated more aggressive behaviors, but parity had no significant effect on any of the aggressive behaviors. These results indicate a beneficial effect of improvements to the pen environment on the aggression performed by group-housed sows between the time of mixing and three weeks later. The effect was reduced on the day of mixing, which is in accordance with the necessity for sows to employ aggression to establish the dominance hierarchy. Full article
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16 pages, 1875 KiB  
Article
Hierarchy Establishment in Growing Finishing Pigs: Impacts on Behavior, Growth Performance, and Physiological Parameters
by Angela Cristina da Fonseca de Oliveira, Saulo Henrique Webber, Yuliaxis Ramayo-Caldas, Antoni Dalmau and Leandro Batista Costa
Animals 2023, 13(2), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13020292 - 14 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2128
Abstract
In recent years, an increased number of studies have dealt with the analysis of social dominance related to animal behavior, physiology, and performance. This study aimed to investigate whether hierarchical ranking affects the coping style, non-social behavior during open field and novel object [...] Read more.
In recent years, an increased number of studies have dealt with the analysis of social dominance related to animal behavior, physiology, and performance. This study aimed to investigate whether hierarchical ranking affects the coping style, non-social behavior during open field and novel object tests, performance, and physiological parameters of pigs. A total of 48 growing pigs (24 barrows and 24 females) were mixed three times during the growing–finishing period. The social and non-social behaviors of pigs were directly noted, and three behavioral tests were performed during the experimental period. Performance and physiological parameters were also recorded. Statistical analysis considered hierarchical classification (dominant vs. intermediary vs. subordinate) and p-values ≤ 0.05 were considered significant. After three regroupings, the pigs in different hierarchical classifications showed no change in hair cortisol values and open-field and novel object tests. Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration and leukocyte values increased in intermediary pigs, and the lowest counts were found in pigs classified as dominants. Furthermore, dominant pigs visited the feeder more but spent shorter time there compared to subordinate and intermediary pigs. Our results suggest that hierarchical classification influenced feeding behavior and physiological parameters without affecting cortisol values and growth performance, demonstrating a possible compensation skill. Full article
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2022

Jump to: 2024, 2023, 2021, 2020

13 pages, 304 KiB  
Article
Effects of Music Therapy on Neuroplasticity, Welfare, and Performance of Piglets Exposed to Music Therapy in the Intra- and Extra-Uterine Phases
by Isabella Cristina de Castro Lippi, Fabiana Ribeiro Caldara, Ibiara Correia de Lima Almeida-Paz, Henrique Biasotto Morais, Agnês Markiy Odakura, Elisabete Castelon Konkiewitz, Welber Sanches Ferreira, Thiago Leite Fraga, Maria Fernanda de Castro Burbarelli, Gisele Aparecida Felix, Rodrigo Garófallo Garcia and Luan Sousa dos Santos
Animals 2022, 12(17), 2211; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12172211 - 28 Aug 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3028
Abstract
The rearing environment of pigs can cause a high level of stress due to the lack of stimuli and the impossibility of carrying out natural behaviors. Music therapy is a way to enrich the environment and promote stress relief. Few studies in swine [...] Read more.
The rearing environment of pigs can cause a high level of stress due to the lack of stimuli and the impossibility of carrying out natural behaviors. Music therapy is a way to enrich the environment and promote stress relief. Few studies in swine using environmental enrichers focus on functional benefits, such as stress resilience, improved biological functions, or mental status. The effect of environmental enrichment on neurobiological processes is particularly poorly understood in farm animals. Thus, our study sought to elucidate the influence of music in piglets exposed to music therapy in the intrauterine and extrauterine phase on neuroplasticity, evaluating the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Behavioural responses were also evaluated using fear tests related to stress resilience. The productive performance of these piglets was analysed to relate the possible reduction in stress levels to greater productivity gains. Forty-eight sows were used at 90 days of gestation until the weaning of their piglets. In the gestation phase, the sows were divided into two treatments: control (without music therapy) and music (with music therapy). In the farrowing/lactation phase, the sows were separated into four treatments: control-control (no music in any phase); control-music (music only in farrowing/lactation); music-control (music only during pregnancy); and music-music (music in both reproductive phases). Music therapy did not cause a difference in the BDNF levels of piglets at birth. However, piglets born from sows of the music-music treatment did not show a reduction in BDNF between birth and weaning, unlike the other treatments. Exposure to music in the last 1/3 of pregnancy and farrowing/lactation improved the weight of piglets at birth and at weaning. Musical enrichment during pregnancy and lactation was able to cause changes in the piglets’ neuroplasticity and improve their productive performances. Full article
16 pages, 1107 KiB  
Article
Effects of Enrichment Type, Presentation and Social Status on Enrichment Use and Behavior of Sows—Part 2: Free Access Stall Feeding
by Cyril Roy, Victoria Kyeiwaa, Karen F. Mancera, Yolande M. Seddon, Laurie M. Connor and Jennifer A. Brown
Animals 2022, 12(14), 1768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12141768 - 10 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
Continuing with previous research by our group in an ESF system, four types of enrichment treatments were assessed in gestating sows housed in Free Access Stalls: (1) Constant: constant provision of wood on chain; (2) Rotate: rotation of rope, straw and wood; (3) [...] Read more.
Continuing with previous research by our group in an ESF system, four types of enrichment treatments were assessed in gestating sows housed in Free Access Stalls: (1) Constant: constant provision of wood on chain; (2) Rotate: rotation of rope, straw and wood; (3) Stimulus: rotation of enrichments with an acoustic cue; and (4) Control: no enrichment. Treatments had a 12 day-duration. Four groups (28 ± 2 sows) were studied from weeks 6 to 14 of gestation. Groups received all treatments in random order. Three dominant and 3 subordinates per pen were selected using a feed competition test. Digital photos were collected at 10 min intervals for 8 h on days 1, 8, 10 and 12 to record interactions with enrichment. Skin lesions were assessed on days 1 and 12, and salivary cortisol was assessed in weeks 6, 10 and 14 of gestation. More enrichment use was observed in Rotate and Stimulus treatments compared to Constant, and more sows contacted enrichment when straw was provided in the Rotate and Stimulus treatments. There was no difference in the amount of enrichment use by dominants and subordinates, no cortisol concentration elevation in subordinate sows nor any difference in lesion scores. In conclusion, social status had little impact and feeding system is important to reduce stress and aggression. Full article
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16 pages, 1446 KiB  
Article
Freedom to Move: Free Lactation Pens Improve Sow Welfare
by Orla Kinane, Fidelma Butler and Keelin O’Driscoll
Animals 2022, 12(14), 1762; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12141762 - 9 Jul 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2756
Abstract
Farrowing crates present a major animal welfare problem. This study investigated the effects of temporary confinement at farrowing on sow welfare and aimed to determine whether this type of system could improve sow welfare through increased freedom of movement. Sows were housed in [...] Read more.
Farrowing crates present a major animal welfare problem. This study investigated the effects of temporary confinement at farrowing on sow welfare and aimed to determine whether this type of system could improve sow welfare through increased freedom of movement. Sows were housed in one of two farrowing accommodation treatments: conventional farrowing crates (Control) or free lactation pens (Free). Sows in the Control treatment were confined from entry to weaning, a period of five weeks. Sows in the Free treatment were temporarily confined from before farrowing (approximately 24 h) until day 4 post-partum, after which time the crate was opened, and they had increased freedom of movement. Sow physical measures (weight, back-fat thickness, hoof score, locomotion score and tear stain score) were measured at entry to farrowing accommodation and at weaning. Salivary cortisol concentration was measured throughout lactation. Farrowing duration and sow posture (Days 1, 3, 7 and 34 after entry) were recorded. Between entry and weaning, locomotion scores significantly increased for sows housed in the Control treatment compared with those housed in Free lactation pens (p < 0.01). Sows in the Free treatment were observed to use all orientations in the pen, showing that when more space is made available to them, they will choose to utilise the space. Tear staining under the left eye was found to be less in Free sows at weaning (p = 0.05), indicating reduced stress. However, salivary cortisol concentration was higher in Free sows overall; cortisol is affected by both positive and negative stimuli, and so, this may be due to factors other than stress, such as higher levels of activity and mental stimulation. These results suggest that free lactation pens can benefit sow welfare; increased freedom of movement throughout lactation can improve sow locomotory health, and as suggested by improved tear stain scores, sow stress levels may be reduced in this type of system compared with conventional farrowing crates. Full article
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13 pages, 2153 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Pen Size and Design, Bedding, Rooting Material and Ambient Factors on Pen and Pig Cleanliness and Air Quality in Fattening Pig Houses
by Marko Ocepek and Inger Lise Andersen
Animals 2022, 12(12), 1580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12121580 - 19 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4317
Abstract
There are several environmental and ambient factors that can affect pig eliminative behaviour. The aim of this survey was to investigate factors related to the physical and ambient environment that have the strongest effects on pig and pen cleanliness and ammonia concentration. Data [...] Read more.
There are several environmental and ambient factors that can affect pig eliminative behaviour. The aim of this survey was to investigate factors related to the physical and ambient environment that have the strongest effects on pig and pen cleanliness and ammonia concentration. Data were collected from 87 pig farms and analysed using mixed (ammonia concentration) or generalized linear (pen and pig cleanliness) model in SAS. The pen was cleaner when pen partitions were open compared to closed (p = 0.010) and increased with increasing amount of litter (p = 0.002), using straw (p = 0.002) as rooting material. Pig cleanliness was higher when pen partitions in the eliminative area were open compared to closed (p = 0.007) and increased with increasing space per pig in the resting area (p < 0.001), with decreasing temperature (p < 0.001), and lowering of air velocity (p = 0.003). Other factors that increased cleanliness was using straw as rooting material (p = 0.028) and increasing amount of litter in the resting area (p = 0.002). Ammonia concentration was reduced with increasing floor space in the eliminative area (p < 0.001) and increasing amount of litter (p = 0.006). Our results pinpoint physical and ambient conditions affecting pen and pig cleanliness and air quality. Full article
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13 pages, 1461 KiB  
Article
Welfare and Performance of Post-Weaning Sows and Piglets Previously Housed in Farrowing Pens with Temporary Crating on a Spanish Commercial Farm: A Pilot Study
by Heng-Lun Ko, Déborah Temple, Janni Hales, Xavier Manteca and Pol Llonch
Animals 2022, 12(6), 724; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12060724 - 13 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2311
Abstract
The study investigated the effect of farrowing environment on the weaning adaptability of sows and piglets. One farrowing crate (FC) and two farrowing pens with temporary crating (TC: SWAP and JLF15) were compared. Sixty-four sows and 663 piglets were followed until 5 days [...] Read more.
The study investigated the effect of farrowing environment on the weaning adaptability of sows and piglets. One farrowing crate (FC) and two farrowing pens with temporary crating (TC: SWAP and JLF15) were compared. Sixty-four sows and 663 piglets were followed until 5 days post-weaning. At weaning (D24), sows and piglets were moved to group pens and nursery pens, respectively. Sows and piglets’ behaviors were observed on D24, D25, and D26. On D23, D25, and D26, piglets’ skin lesions were counted, and sows and piglets’ saliva samples were collected for stress biomarkers (cortisol and chromogranin A, CgA). Piglets were weighed on D23 and D29. All the piglets’ skin lesions increased on D25 and decreased on D26 (p < 0.05). Compared to D23, cortisol of JLF15 and CgA of FC piglets increased, whereas those of SWAP piglets remained similar after weaning (p < 0.05). Post-weaning performance in piglets was similar across farrowing systems. SWAP sows vocalized more than FC and JLF15 on D24 and D25 (p < 0.001). Results suggested that SWAP piglets showed a lower weaning stress response. Frequent post-weaning vocalization in SWAP sows might be linked with a negative effect of the abrupt separation from the piglets. Full article
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18 pages, 5263 KiB  
Article
Lying, Feeding and Activity Preference of Weaned Piglets for LED-Illuminated vs. Dark Pen Compartments
by Sven Götz, Camille M. C. Raoult, Klaus Reiter, Monika Wensch-Dorendorf and Eberhard von Borell
Animals 2022, 12(2), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020202 - 15 Jan 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2113
Abstract
Little is known on the effect of light on pig behaviour. The choice behaviour of weaned piglets kept under two different light-emitting diode (LED) illuminance levels was investigated: 32 piglets (in two batches) were housed in a preference test room composed of two [...] Read more.
Little is known on the effect of light on pig behaviour. The choice behaviour of weaned piglets kept under two different light-emitting diode (LED) illuminance levels was investigated: 32 piglets (in two batches) were housed in a preference test room composed of two identical double pen units. One side of the pen unit was permanently illuminated with 600 lux, while the other was darkened to almost 0 lux (~0 lx); by using a passageway, piglets could move between the two sides. The “lying”, “eating” and “activity” behaviours were evaluated during three days in the first, third and fifth experimental week based on video recordings and a 5-min time sampling method. At first, piglets preferred to stay in the 600 lux illuminated compartments. Then, this preference decreased for the “eating” and “activity” behaviours and reversed for the “lying” behaviour, with the darkened compartments being preferred. The results also show that pen soiling was higher under 600 lux, but feed consumption was not affected by the illuminance. Since pigs choose between the two illuminance levels to perform specific behaviours, illuminance could be used to divide the pens into functional areas and, thus, help in meeting pigs’ behavioural needs. Full article
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17 pages, 2260 KiB  
Article
Does Nursing Behaviour of Sows in Loose-Housing Pens Differ from That of Sows in Farrowing Pens with Crates?
by Dierck-Hinrich Wiechers, Swetlana Herbrandt, Nicole Kemper and Michaela Fels
Animals 2022, 12(2), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020137 - 7 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2472
Abstract
Sows confined to farrowing crates are restricted in performing natural behaviour such as maternal behaviour. Loose-housing farrowing pens (LH) and farrowing pens with crates (FC) were compared regarding sows’ nursing behaviour via video analyses over four weeks per batch (one day per week). [...] Read more.
Sows confined to farrowing crates are restricted in performing natural behaviour such as maternal behaviour. Loose-housing farrowing pens (LH) and farrowing pens with crates (FC) were compared regarding sows’ nursing behaviour via video analyses over four weeks per batch (one day per week). Nursing frequency was similar in LH and FC pens (1.25 ± 0.82 vs. 1.19 ± 0.75 nursings/sow/hour; p > 0.05). However, nursing duration differed between the two systems (LH: 5.7 ± 4.6 min vs. FC: 7.0 ± 5.0 min; odds ratio (OR) 1.168, p = 0.011). In LH pens, more nursing bouts were sow-terminated than in FC pens (OR 0.427, p = 0.001). The probability of sow-terminated nursing occurring increased from week 1 to week 4 (OR 3.479, adjusted p (padj) < 0.001), while that of observing unnursed piglets decreased from week 1 to week 4 (OR 0.301, padj < 0.001) and rose with increasing litter size (OR 1.174, p = 0.010). We conclude that nursing behaviour was affected by the farrowing system, with shorter nursing duration and more nursing terminations by the sow in LH than in FC pens. Since this corresponds to the nursing behaviour of sows in semi-natural conditions, it can be assumed that sows in LH pens are more likely to exhibit natural nursing behaviour. Full article
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13 pages, 2039 KiB  
Article
Implementation of a Pig Toilet in a Nursery Pen with a Straw-Littered Lying Area
by Michelle Tillmanns, Kees Scheepens, Marieke Stolte, Swetlana Herbrandt, Nicole Kemper and Michaela Fels
Animals 2022, 12(1), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010113 - 4 Jan 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3190
Abstract
In this study, a pig toilet was installed on an organic pig farm, which enabled pigs to use a lying area littered with straw and keep it clean. The pig toilet was separated into a defaecation area and a urination area and nursery [...] Read more.
In this study, a pig toilet was installed on an organic pig farm, which enabled pigs to use a lying area littered with straw and keep it clean. The pig toilet was separated into a defaecation area and a urination area and nursery pigs were trained to use the urination area by means of a rewarding system. A total of 24 piglets were weaned at 6–7 weeks of age and housed in the experimental system for four-week periods. Per trial, a group of four pigs was formed, and videos were recorded on two days per week (08:00 to 18:00). Direct observation was carried out in the first and last week of each trial. In total, 1500 eliminations were video-analysed. An individual pig had an average of 7.1 ± 1.4 defaecations and 4.8 ± 0.8 urinations per day. In total, 96.4% of all urinations and 97.4% of all defaecations were performed in the pig toilet. However, most urinations took place in the defaecation area as well (90.4%). Even if the training to spatially separate defecation and urination behaviour was not successful, we showed that a pig toilet offers the possibility to create littered lying areas, possibly increasing animal welfare. Full article
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2021

Jump to: 2024, 2023, 2022, 2020

14 pages, 1424 KiB  
Article
Do Rubber Floor Mats Prevent Lameness in Gestating Sows Housed in Large Groups? A Field Experiment on Three Commercial Farms in France
by Adeline Huneau-Salaün, Stéphanie Bougeard, Loïc Balaine, Florent Eono, Éric Eveno, Maxime Guillermic, Rodolphe Thomas, Nicolas Rose and Françoise Pol
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113160 - 5 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1612
Abstract
Lameness and foot disorders are major health and welfare issues in intensive swine production systems. They are exacerbated when sows are housed in large groups on slatted concrete floors during gestation. Our study aimed to assess the effect of rubber mats in the [...] Read more.
Lameness and foot disorders are major health and welfare issues in intensive swine production systems. They are exacerbated when sows are housed in large groups on slatted concrete floors during gestation. Our study aimed to assess the effect of rubber mats in the lying area of the gestation pen on lameness and leg health in gestating sows housed in large pens in commercial conditions. The study was conducted on three commercial farms over two successive gestations. A total of 582 Large White × Landrace sows, housed in 10 static groups, were enrolled: 5 groups in pens with rubber mats and 5 groups on slatted concrete floors. Lameness, bursitis, leg injuries, claw growth defects and claw lesions were measured at the beginning, middle and end of each gestation period. The rubber mats decreased the risk of suffering from bursitis, but had no effect on the risk of lameness, leg injuries, claw growth defects or claw lesions. Sows housed on rubber mats were heavily soiled compared with those on slatted concrete floors because the mats were not perforated for slurry evacuation. Locomotion disorders and foot lesions remained prevalent despite the rubber mats in the lying area of the gestation pens, but adding rubber mats in service rooms and farrowing crates may produce better results. Full article
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16 pages, 1297 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Housing Systems during Suckling and Rearing Period on Skin and Tail Lesions, Tail Losses and Performance of Growing and Finishing Pigs
by Anita Lange, Michael Hahne, Christian Lambertz, Matthias Gauly, Michael Wendt, Heiko Janssen and Imke Traulsen
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2184; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082184 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3724
Abstract
Feasible alternatives to stressful weaning and tail-docking are needed to inhibit tail biting. Therefore, we investigated the effects of housing systems for 1106 pigs that were weaned from: (1) conventional farrowing crates (FC), (2) free-farrowing pens (FF), or (3) group housing of lactating [...] Read more.
Feasible alternatives to stressful weaning and tail-docking are needed to inhibit tail biting. Therefore, we investigated the effects of housing systems for 1106 pigs that were weaned from: (1) conventional farrowing crates (FC), (2) free-farrowing pens (FF), or (3) group housing of lactating sows (GH) into (1) conventional rearing pens (Conv) or (2) piglets remained in their farrowing pens for rearing (Reaf). Tails were docked or left undocked batchwise. All pigs were regrouped for the fattening period. Pigs were scored for skin lesions, tail lesions and losses. After weaning, Conv-GH pigs had significantly less skin lesions than Conv-FC and Conv-FF pigs. After regrouping for fattening, Reaf-GH pigs had significantly less skin lesions than Conv pigs, Reaf-FC and Reaf-FF. The frequency of tail lesions of undocked Conv pigs peaked in week 4 (66.8%). Two weeks later, Reaf undocked pigs reached their maximum (36.2%). At the end of fattening, 99.3% of undocked Conv pigs and 43.1% of undocked Reaf pigs lost parts of their tail. In conclusion, the co-mingling of piglets during suckling reduced the incidence of skin lesions. Rearing in the farrowing pen significantly reduced the incidence of tail lesions and losses for undocked pigs. No housing system negatively affected the performance. Full article
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13 pages, 2275 KiB  
Article
One Is the Coldest Number: How Group Size and Body Weight Affect Thermal Preference in Weaned Pigs (3 to 15 kg)
by Lindsey A. Robbins, Angela R. Green-Miller, Jay S. Johnson and Brianna N. Gaskill
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1447; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051447 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2085
Abstract
Housing pigs within their thermal comfort zone positively impacts productivity and performance. However, fundamental information on behavioral thermoregulatory responses of individual and group-housed pigs is meager. As a gregarious species, pigs prefer to be near one another, touching and often huddling. As pigs [...] Read more.
Housing pigs within their thermal comfort zone positively impacts productivity and performance. However, fundamental information on behavioral thermoregulatory responses of individual and group-housed pigs is meager. As a gregarious species, pigs prefer to be near one another, touching and often huddling. As pigs huddle together, they decrease their heat loss to the environment by decreasing exposed surface area and increasing mass. Additionally, pigs gain weight rapidly as they age. As an individual grows, their ability to withstand lower temperatures increases. We hypothesized that group size would alter pig thermal preference and that thermal preference would change based upon body weight. Thirty-six groups of pigs (n = 2 pigs/group) were tested in a factorial design based on group size (1, 2, or 4) and weight category (small: 5.20 ± 1.15 kg; medium: 8.79 ± 1.30 kg; and large: 13.95 ± 1.26 kg) in both sexes. Treatment groups were placed inside a chamber with a controlled thermal gradient (4.6 m × 0.9 m × 0.9 m; L × W × H) that ranged in temperature from 18 to 30 °C. Pigs habituated to the gradient for 24 h. The following 24 h testing period was continuously video recorded and each pig’s location during inactivity (~70% daily budget) within the thermal apparatus was recorded every 10 min via instantaneous scan sampling. Data were analyzed using a GLM and log10 + 0.001 transformed for normality. Tukey tests and Bonferroni-corrected custom tests were used for post hoc comparisons. Peak temperature preference was determined by the maximum amount of time spent at a specific temperature. Both group size (p = 0.001) and weight category (p < 0.001) influenced the thermal location choice of pigs. Individual pigs preferred 30.31 °C, which differed from a group of 2 (20.0 °C: p = 0.003) and 4 pigs (20.0 °C: p < 0.001). The peak temperature preference of the small pigs (30.2 °C) differed from the large pigs (20.0 °C: p < 0.001) but did not differ from the medium-sized pigs (28.4 °C: p > 0.05). Overall, heavier pigs and larger groups preferred cooler temperatures. Full article
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18 pages, 2600 KiB  
Article
Is There a Link between Suckling and Manipulation Behavior during Rearing in Pigs?
by Friederike K. Warns, Mehmet Gültas, Astrid L. van Asten, Tobias Scholz and Martina Gerken
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1175; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041175 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2544
Abstract
Inadequate possibilities to perform oral manipulation behavior for pigs can lead to misdirection and thus tail biting. Our study aimed to analyze manipulation behaviors of weaner pigs with focus on tail biting and the relationship with agonistic characteristics of the piglets during suckling. [...] Read more.
Inadequate possibilities to perform oral manipulation behavior for pigs can lead to misdirection and thus tail biting. Our study aimed to analyze manipulation behaviors of weaner pigs with focus on tail biting and the relationship with agonistic characteristics of the piglets during suckling. We analyzed the individual manipulation behavior of 188 weaner pigs. General health condition and tail lesions were determined weekly. Correlations were estimated between weight at weaning and at the end of rearing period, frequency of manipulative rearing behaviors and Dominance and social tension index based on suckling behavior. Principal component and cluster analyses were performed to identify groups of piglets which showed similar suckling and rearing behaviors. Tail biting increased at the middle and end of rearing with switching roles of biters and victims. Tail lesions were correlated with received tail biting behavior but occurred with a delay of more than a week. The frequency of performed tail biting was correlated with dominance index (rs = −0.256, p < 0.01) and weaning weight (rs = −0.199, p < 0.05). We assume that performed tail biting is more often observed in pigs who show mainly submissive behavior in teat disputes. Full article
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12 pages, 653 KiB  
Article
Impact of Duration of Farrowing Crate Closure on Physical Indicators of Sow Welfare and Piglet Mortality
by Maria Camila Ceballos, Karen Camille Rocha Góis, Thomas D. Parsons and Meghann Pierdon
Animals 2021, 11(4), 969; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040969 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3060
Abstract
This study examines effects of opening hinged farrowing crates 4 or 7 days post-farrowing. Sows (n = 696) allocated to 3 treatments: PC—crate closed, T4—crate opened day 4, and T7—crate opened day 7 were assessed for body condition score (BCS), lameness, shoulder [...] Read more.
This study examines effects of opening hinged farrowing crates 4 or 7 days post-farrowing. Sows (n = 696) allocated to 3 treatments: PC—crate closed, T4—crate opened day 4, and T7—crate opened day 7 were assessed for body condition score (BCS), lameness, shoulder lesions and teat lesions. Piglet mortality was higher in T4 (27.8%) compared to T7 (23.9%) and PC (25.9%) (p < 0.05) which did not differ with T7 (p > 0.05). No difference in risk of being laid on was found 1–3 days post-farrowing with all crates closed (p > 0.05). Day 4–6, piglets in T4, experienced higher risk of being laid on compared to PC (IRR = 2.5, p < 0.05), and T7 (IRR = 2.3, p < 0.05). Days 7–15 post-farrowing, risk of piglets dying from being laid on was higher in open crates, T4 and T7, versus PC (T4: IRR = 3.89, T7: IRR = 3.5, p < 0.05). We found higher risk for teat lesions in PC sows at weaning (p < 0.05). With crates open, risk of piglets being laid on increased between 7 days and weaning, but total piglet mortality did not differ and the sow’s risk for teat lesions decreased. Our results, therefore, support opening crates at day 7. Full article
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14 pages, 1459 KiB  
Article
Compressed Brown Algae as a Potential Environmental Enrichment Material in Growing Pigs
by Françoise Pol, Adeline Huneau-Salaün, Sarah Gallien, Yannick Ramonet and Nicolas Rose
Animals 2021, 11(2), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020315 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
In barren housing conditions, enrichment materials are given to pigs to improve their welfare. Here, we assessed the suitability of an algae-based cylinder as an enrichment material on the behavioral, physiological, health and productivity welfare indicators of pigs. Algae was compared with metal [...] Read more.
In barren housing conditions, enrichment materials are given to pigs to improve their welfare. Here, we assessed the suitability of an algae-based cylinder as an enrichment material on the behavioral, physiological, health and productivity welfare indicators of pigs. Algae was compared with metal chains and wood logs. The study involved 444 pigs from two successive batches on one single farm. During the suckling period, half of the pigs received algae and the control pigs received no material. After weaning and until the end of fattening, algae, wood or chains were equally distributed among the pigs. Consumption of algae cylinders was different between pens and between batches. After weaning and during the fattening period, although the results differed between batches, no significant difference was observed in the object manipulations. Salivary cortisol, used as biomarker to measure the stress levels after pig transfers, were similar between the treatments. Enrichment material made from algae had no negative effect on pig health and no effect on performance and body condition. Regarding their characteristics and according to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2016/336 classification, algae cylinders can be categorized as suboptimal enrichment materials, although the present results suggest that it does not significantly improve pig welfare compared to a metal chain, which is categorized as a material of marginal interest. Full article
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2020

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21 pages, 716 KiB  
Review
Soiling of Pig Pens: A Review of Eliminative Behaviour
by Eleonora Nannoni, André J.A. Aarnink, Herman M. Vermeer, Inonge Reimert, Michaela Fels and Marc B.M. Bracke
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2025; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112025 - 3 Nov 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 4981
Abstract
This is a comprehensive review on the pigs’ normal eliminatory behaviour (i.e., defaecation and urination) and pen soiling. This review is aimed primarily at solving issues with pen soiling in current systems, and ultimately at the future design of a well-functioning pig toilet, [...] Read more.
This is a comprehensive review on the pigs’ normal eliminatory behaviour (i.e., defaecation and urination) and pen soiling. This review is aimed primarily at solving issues with pen soiling in current systems, and ultimately at the future design of a well-functioning pig toilet, which we intend to elaborate on in a subsequent publication. In this paper, first, normal elimination is described in relation to what is known about its phylogeny, ontogeny, causation, and function, i.e., according to Tinbergen’s four why questions concerning animal behaviour. Then, pen soiling is described as if it were a medical disorder, highlighting its importance, aetiology, symptoms, diagnosis, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention. Due to its negative consequences in terms of animal welfare, health, workload, and environmental emissions, possible methods to address pen soiling in current systems are described. Probably, pigs do not choose a specific place to eliminate but rather choose the most comfortable place for resting, and avoid eliminating there. We identified four main strategies to reduce pen soiling: (1) reducing the suitability of the designated elimination area to be used for other functions, especially resting or thermoregulation; (2) improving the suitability of other functional areas in the pen to be used for their specific function, such as resting and activity; (3) reducing the suitability of other functional areas to be used for elimination; and (4) improving the suitability of the elimination area for elimination. These prevention strategies and the encompassing disease framework provide a structured approach to deal with pen soiling in existing systems and to support the future design, development, and implementation of a well-functioning pig toilet that can help to achieve some of the main goals of modern pig production, namely reducing environmental emissions as well as substantially improving pig welfare. Full article
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