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Modifying stockperson attitudes and behaviour towards pigs at a large commercial farm

By G. J. Coleman, P. H. Hemsworth, M. Hay, M. Cox

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Abstract

Considerable research into the role of the stockperson's attitude and behaviour on the behaviour, productivity and welfare of commercial pigs has been conducted. Recently, it has been demonstrated that a training program to modify the attitudes and behaviour of stockpeople on small and moderately sized commercial farms results in improvements in these variables and these improvements, in turn, lead to a reduction of fear in pigs and an improvement in reproductive performance. The aim of this study was to determine whether a similar training procedure would be effective in modifying stockperson behaviour at a large commercial farm in which the effects of peer pressure and the consequent increased homogeneity of stockperson behaviour may influence the effectiveness of the training programme. In addition, the effects of these modification procedures on other, job-related variables were investigated. A total of 43 stockpeople from a large commercial piggery participated in the study. They were assigned to one of two groups. The first group received a procedure to modify attitudes and behaviour towards pigs, and the second group received no intervention. Stockperson attitudes and behaviour improved following the training procedure and there was a tendency for pigs' withdrawal behaviour to be reduced. Surprisingly, 6 months after the completion of the study, the retention rate for employees who had participated in the training program was 61% compared to the rate for those who had not participated (47%). The results of this study confirm that stockperson attitudes and behaviour can be improved in a large commercial farm and that short-term effects on pig behaviour can be observed. Stockpeople who have been trained are also more likely to remain in the job. Taken in conjunction with earlier research, there is a strong case for introducing stockperson training courses in the pig industry which target the attitudes and behaviour of the stockperson.

Date 2000
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 66
Issue 1/2
Pages 11-20
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00073-8
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Centre, Department of Psychology, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Victoria, 3145, Australia.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Attitudes
  4. Australasia
  5. Australia
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Developed countries
  9. Efficacy
  10. Employees
  11. Farms
  12. Mammals
  13. Meat animals
  14. Oceania
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. personnel
  18. pig farming
  19. piggeries
  20. pig housing
  21. Pigs
  22. Primates
  23. productivity
  24. Reproduction
  25. staff
  26. sties
  27. Swine
  28. training
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed