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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Animal Welfare Centre, Department of Psychology, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Victoria, 3145, Australia.|
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