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If you knew what was good for you! The value of environmental enrichments with known welfare benefits is not demonstrated by sows using operant techniques

By M. R. P. Elmore, J. P. Garner, A. K. Johnson, R. D. Kirkden, B. T. Richert, E. A. Pajor

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Abstract

This study assessed the motivation of gestating sows housed in standard, barren gestation stalls (used for breeding/implantation and/or gestation) for access to environmental enrichment. Enrichment consisted of a cotton rope or rubber mat in comparison to positive (additional food when fed at commercial levels) and negative (empty trough) controls. Although environmental enrichment may improve animal welfare, sows' valuation of enrichments is largely unknown. This study used an operant panel and obtained behavioral measures to quantify motivation. As indicated by a higher price paid and lower latencies to press the panel and enter the treatment stall (all comparisons, p.10). Although sows' motivation for a mat did not differ from that for an empty trough, previous work has demonstrated the welfare benefits associated with comfort flooring.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 15
Issue 3
Pages 254-271
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2012.683982
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.MonicaRPElmore@gmail.com
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Tags
  1. Animal reproduction
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Comparisons
  6. Enrichment
  7. Environment
  8. Floors
  9. Gestation
  10. Implantation
  11. Mammals
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Pigs
  14. pregnancy
  15. sows
  16. stalls
  17. Suiformes
  18. Swine
  19. Techniques
  20. ungulates
  21. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed