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Short- and long-term effects of eight enrichment materials on the behaviour of finishing pigs fed ad libitum or restrictively

By Bettina Zwicker, Lorenz Gygax, Beat Wechsler, Roland Weber

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Abstract

In a semi-natural environment, a lot of the daily activity of pigs is spent in exploratory and foraging behaviour. Providing enrichment material attractive to the pigs both over the short and long term is therefore important in intensive housing systems. This study aimed to investigate the effect of four types of point-source enrichment materials and four types of litter on the behaviour of finishing pigs. In experiment 1, pigs were offered cut straw or cut straw enriched with maize kernels as litter on the lying area, as well as a cylindrical dispenser filled with a compressed straw block or a straw rack filled with cut straw. In experiment 2, chopped straw or chopped Miscanthus giganteus was provided as litter on the lying area, along with a straw-pellet dispenser or bark compost in a trough. In both experiments, 96 finishing pigs with undocked tails were housed in groups of six pigs in pens with partly-slatted floors. Half of the groups were fed restrictively, the other half ad libitum. Every three weeks, the enrichment materials were replaced. Exploratory behaviour directed towards the enrichment material, the pen equipment and pen mates was videorecorded and analysed by means of one-minute focal-scan sampling on the second and eighteenth day after provision of a new enrichment material. Data were analysed using linear mixed-effect models. In both experiments, the frequency with which the enrichment material was explored was influenced by the interaction of type of material and day (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 144
Issue 1
Pages 31-38
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.11.007
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Enrichment
  3. Exploration
  4. Feeding
  5. motivation
  6. Pigs