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The welfare of adult pigs: the effects of five housing treatments on behaviour, plasma corticosteroids and injuries

By J. L. Barnett, G. M. Cronin, C. G. Winfield, A. M. Dewar

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The effects of 5 housing treatments (tethered, pairs, or a group indoors, in a yard or in a paddock) on the behaviour, physiology (stress physiology and blood metabolites), health (injury status) and production (food eaten and oestrous expression) of 30 non-pregnant adult female pigs were determined at regular intervals over 12 months. Pigs housed in pairs exhibited a chronic stress response; they had the highest free corticosteroid concentrations at rest, a disrupted diurnal rhythm of plasma corticosteroids and a slower corticosteroid response to, and recovery from, transport. Behaviourally, these pigs spent more time lying alone than pigs in other treatments, and there was a significant regression between lying alone behaviour and free corticosteroid concentrations, suggesting that this behaviour may be a useful indicator of welfare status. The group of 6 pigs housed indoors consistently showed the lowest total and free corticosteroid concentrations during the entire experiment, and also the least lying alone behaviour; however, these responses might have been influenced by their similar rearing and experimental environment. While the occurrence of inappropriate behaviours such as champing, biting and excessive drinking was generally low, it was higher in pigs housed indoors, particularly the tethered and paired pigs, suggesting mild frustration. A comparison of the two most different environments (tethered housing and paddock) showed no clear welfare advantage in housing non-pregnant adult pigs in a more extensive environment.

Date 1984
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 12
Issue 3
Pages 209-232
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Anim. Res. Inst., Dep. Agric., Werribee, Victoria 3030, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Blood
  7. Extension
  8. Farms
  9. Glucocorticoids
  10. Husbandry
  11. Mammals
  12. Meat animals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Stress
  15. Swine
  16. welfare
  1. peer-reviewed