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Group composition for fattening entire male pigs under enriched housing conditions - influences on behaviour, injuries and boar taint compounds

By M. Holinger, B. Fruh, E. Hillmann

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In organic farming, the production of pork from entire male pigs seems to be the most promising alternative to castration, as organic animal husbandry aims at high standards of animal welfare and elimination of mutilations. However, previous research on behaviour of entire male pigs was mostly carried out under barren housing conditions and is thus not entirely transferrable to enriched housing conditions. In the present study, we investigated single-sex and mixed-sex groups of entire male pigs and compared them with mixed-sex groups of castrated male pigs under organic housing conditions. On a commercial farm, 362 pigs (average weight 22.7 kg, average age 80 days) were assigned to pens with groups of 20 (+1) pigs according to three treatments: single-sex groups with entire males (EE), mixed-sex groups with entire males and females (EF) and mixed-sex groups with castrated males and females (CF). Skin and tail lesions, lameness and the behaviours 'head knocking/biting', 'fighting' and 'mounting' were assessed on five days during the fattening period. Average carcass weight for all sexes was 92 kg. After slaughter, female reproductive organs were inspected for signs of pregnancy. Fat samples of entire male pigs were analysed for concentrations of androstenone and skatole. Entire males showed more aggressive and mounting behaviours than castrated males ( p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 165
Pages 47-56
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.01.016
Language English
Author Address FiBL Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Department of Livestock Sciences, Ackerstrasse 113/Postfach, 5070 Frick,
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggressive behavior
  2. Agonistic behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal husbandry
  5. Animal nutrition
  6. Animals
  7. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  8. Boars
  9. Carcasses
  10. Castration
  11. Farms
  12. Feces
  13. Females
  14. Finishing
  15. Lameness
  16. Lesions
  17. Males
  18. Mammals
  19. Meat.
  20. nose
  21. organic farming
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. pens
  24. performance traits
  25. Pigs
  26. pork
  27. pregnancy
  28. Reproduction
  29. skin
  30. skin lesions
  31. standards
  32. steroids
  33. Suiformes
  34. trauma
  35. ungulates
  36. vertebrates
  37. welfare
  38. Wounds and injuries
  1. peer-reviewed