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Animals (Basel). 2019 Apr 2;9(4). pii: E139. doi: 10.3390/ani9040139.

Rearing Undocked Pigs on Fully Slatted Floors Using Multiple Types and Variations of Enrichment.

Author information

1
Pig Development Department, Teagasc, P61 P302 Moorepark, Ireland. jenyun.chou@ed.ac.uk.
2
Animal & Veterinary Sciences Research Group, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK. jenyun.chou@ed.ac.uk.
3
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK. jenyun.chou@ed.ac.uk.
4
Agrocampus Ouest, 35042 Rennes, France. constance.drique@agrocampus-ouest.fr.
5
Animal & Veterinary Sciences Research Group, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK. dale.sandercock@sruc.ac.uk.
6
Animal & Veterinary Sciences Research Group, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK. rick.death@sruc.ac.uk.
7
Pig Development Department, Teagasc, P61 P302 Moorepark, Ireland. keelin.odriscoll@teagasc.ie.

Abstract

In fully slatted systems, tail biting is difficult to manage when pigs' tails are not docked because loose enrichment material can obstruct slurry systems. This pilot study sought to determine: a) whether intact-tailed pigs can be reared with a manageable level of tail biting by using multiple slat-compatible enrichment; b) whether a variation of enrichment has an effect; and c) whether pigs show a preference in enrichment use. Ninety-six undocked pigs were given the same enrichment items from one week after birth until weaning. At weaning, four different combinations of 8 enrichment items were utilized based on predefined characteristics. These were randomly assigned to 8 pens (n = 12 pigs/pen). Four pens had the same combination (SAME) from assignment and four pens switched combinations every two weeks (SWITCH). Individual lesion scores, interactions with the enrichment, and harmful behaviours were recorded. The average tail score during the experiment was low (0.93 ± 0.02). Only one pig in a SAME pen had a severely bitten tail (partly amputated). The overall level of interaction with enrichment did not decline over time. Pigs interacted with a rack of loose material most frequently (p < 0.001). The study showed promising results for rearing undocked pigs on fully slatted floors using slat-compatible enrichment.

KEYWORDS:

environmental enrichment; pig; slatted system; tail biting

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