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Expert judgement on enrichment materials for pigs validates preliminary RICHPIG model

By M. B. M. Bracke, J. J. Zonderland, E. J. B. Bleumer

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EC directive 2001/93/EC states that pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities. This directive requires further interpretation. In order to facilitate the further implementation of the directive into national, Dutch legislation a preliminary model was constructed to assess the value of different enrichment materials for pigs. Using an e-mail questionnaire expert opinion was elicited in order to 'validate' the preliminary model. In total nine senior pig welfare experts assessed 64 enrichment materials ordered according to the preliminary model. Kendall's coefficient of concordance of the experts was 0.87 (P<0.001). Materials that generated the lowest scores (on a scale from 0, low, to 10, high) included a mirror (attached to the wall), a concrete block, a rubber mat, straw at an absolute minimum, a mineral block, a heavy plastic ball, a chain, a rubber hose cross, a free toy (sow neck tether), a hanging car tire and a bucket (all median expert scores <=1.5). Materials that generated the highest scores included whole straw with chopped beet roots, with maize silage or with additional feed, a bale of straw, long straw with fir branches and straw with forest bark and branches (all median expert scores >8.0). The experts suggested a score of 5.0 as the minimum of what they considered acceptable enrichment. Materials with a median expert score of 5.0 included compost from a dispenser, straw pellets (loose or from a plastic dispenser) and straw in a metal basket. A high correlation was found between the preliminary model scores and the expert medians (0.97, P<0.05), and this finding was confirmed in a workshop at an international conference, suggesting that there may be considerable scope for modelling to support ethical and political decision-making in the area of environmental enrichment for pigs.

Date 2007
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 104
Issue 1/2
Pages 1-13
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, Netherlands.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. British Isles
  5. Commonwealth of Nations
  6. Denmark
  7. Developed countries
  8. Enrichment
  9. Europe
  10. Germany
  11. Great Britain
  12. Laws and regulations
  13. Legislation
  14. Mammals
  15. Materials
  16. Mathematics and statistics
  17. Meat animals
  18. models
  19. Netherlands
  20. OECD countries
  21. peer-reviewed
  22. regulations
  23. rules
  24. Scandinavia
  25. surveys
  26. Sweden
  27. Swine
  28. United Kingdom
  1. peer-reviewed