Providing Enrichments to Pigs Discourages Negative Behavior

Farmscape for October 29, 2021

Full Interview 11:20 Listen

Research indicates providing enrichments to pigs at an early age to stimulate natural behavior will help prevent negative behaviors such as flank and tail biting as the animals grow. “Appropriate Enrichment for Sows and Growing Pigs” will be discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2021 set for November 16-17 via Zoom. Dr. Jennifer Brown, a Research Scientist Ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre explains, enrichment refers to any additions to the pen that assist or stimulate the pig to engage in natural behavior.

Clip-Dr. Jennifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre:
Looking at the different production systems, we’re recognising that it might be important. I’m hoping to get a study started in the coming year because there’s certainly some evidence that shows that, if pigs are given enrichment at an early age, then they’re going to direct their manipulative behaviors more to their environment than to manipulating other pigs. A lot of producers have always provided some form of enrichment, usually chains and that sort of thing, to finisher pigs because we recognise that they’re often performing manipulation, some flank biting or tail biting behavior. Now we’re recognising that you can probably avoid a lot of those behaviors being directed at other pigs by providing things earlier in their growing stages so that they learn to explore the environment to find things to manipulate rather than just tail biting and other damaging behaviors.

Dr. Brown says, as the pigs grow, they will prefer different enrichments. She says the younger pigs and the market pigs like to explore but the market pigs will require much more robust enrichments then the younger pigs, compared to sows which are typically motivated by any enrichment they can actually consume.

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