Farmscape for January 12, 2024
|Full Interview 5:21
An animal care specialist with J Woods Livestock Services says one of the most difficult concepts to for people to get their heads around when moving pigs is “the fewer you move, the faster it will get done.” The topic “Why Pigs Do What They Do, Not What We Want Them To Do” was among the topics discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2023 in Saskatoon. Jennifer Woods of J Woods Livestock Services says its all about understanding what motivates the pig.
Quote-Jennifer Woods-J Woods Livestock Services:
I spend a lot of focussing on animal behavior and trying to understand how animals think and why they react the way they do, so understanding what they like and don’t like. One of the big things I really focus on is group size. That’s a really hard one for people to get their head around is the less pigs you move the faster you get it done. Overcrowding is another issue. I’m trying to get people to back off, give them room to go and letting them think it’s their idea to move. Their motivation is to move away from pressure, so it’s to feel safe. That’s why when you approach them and apply that visual pressure the intent is to get the pig to move away from you without actually fleeing out of fear. That’s one of the biggest challenges with using the motivation of the fear response, is not to invoke full fear in them but more get them to move as a cautionary movement of them. It’s just like, you know what, she’s a little too close to me so I’m going to turn and I’m going move away. It’ll just make me feel safer. They don’t like being crowded, they don’t like being moved in big groups, they don’t like you right in their face, they don’t like being forced or pushed. They really want to believe it’s their idea so, give them an area to go, open it up let them see that there is a way for them to escape and move forward and make them feel safer.
Woods says usually the animals are doing exactly what we are telling them to do according to where we are standing, to our body language, to how we’re reacting to them and it can be very frustrating for handlers if they don’t understand that.
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