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Effect of marginal environmental and social enrichment during rearing on pigs’ reactions to novelty, conspecifics and handling

By Björn Tönepöhl, Anne K. Appel, Stephan Welp, Barbara Voß, Uta König von Borstel, Matthias Gauly

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Abstract

The rearing environment of farmed animals can affect their behaviour when handled, and therefore needs to be taken into account when selecting for traits such as docility. Therefore, 126 German Landrace and Pietrain×German Landrace pigs were reared in two different production environments (barren (n=47) or slightly enriched (n=79)), both corresponding to commercial conditions. The marginal enrichment included the provision of more toys, an additional feeder type, and a larger number of conspecifics, while space allowance per pig remained equal. Pigs’ responses to (a) a novel arena test (NAT), (b) a novel object test (NOT), and (c) weighing, were compared, together with the number of skin lesions (an indicator of aggressiveness). While the differences in behaviour in the NAT were not significant (p>0.1), the differences in the other tests were significant. In the NOT enriched housed pigs contacted the novel object more frequently (p=0.0124) and showed a tendency for a greater total duration of manipulating the novel object (p=0.0641). Furthermore, the pigs housed in enriched environment were calmer at loading onto the scale (p=0.0008), but more agitated on the scale (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 140
Issue 3
Pages 137-145
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.05.002
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Tags
  1. Environment
  2. Handling
  3. Housing
  4. Pigs
  5. skin lesions
  6. tests