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Animals (Basel). 2019 May 13;9(5). pii: E235. doi: 10.3390/ani9050235.

The Effects of Environmental Enrichment on the Physiology, Behaviour, Productivity and Meat Quality of Pigs Raised in a Hot Climate.

Author information

1
Animal Welfare Program, IRTA, Veïnat de Sies s/n, 17121 Monells, Spain. emma.fabrega@irta.cat.
2
Physiological and Behavioural Mechanisms of Adaptation Department, IRSEA (Research Institute in Semiochemistry and Applied Ethology), Quartier Salignan, 84400 Apt, France. m.marcet@group-irsea.com.
3
Animal Welfare Program, IRTA, Veïnat de Sies s/n, 17121 Monells, Spain. cvr.milan42@gmail.com.
4
Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Clinical Analysis (Interlab-UMU), Regional Campus of International Excellence 'Campus Mare Nostrum', University of Murcia, Campus de Espinardo s/n, 30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain. det20165@um.es.
5
Department of Animal and Food Science, School of Veterinary Science, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain. det20165@um.es.
6
Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Clinical Analysis (Interlab-UMU), Regional Campus of International Excellence 'Campus Mare Nostrum', University of Murcia, Campus de Espinardo s/n, 30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain. jjceron@um.es.
7
Department of Animal and Food Science, School of Veterinary Science, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain. xavier.manteca@uab.cat.
8
Animal Welfare Program, IRTA, Veïnat de Sies s/n, 17121 Monells, Spain. antonio.velarde@irta.cat.

Abstract

Some positive effects regarding the use of enrichment material on the stimulation of pig exploration and a reduction in redirected behaviour was reported. This study aims to evaluate the effects of four enrichment materials on the behaviour, physiology/health, performance and carcass and meat quality in pigs kept in Spanish production conditions. Ninety-six male pigs (six pigs/pen) ranging from 70 to 170 days old were used. Chains were used for the control group (CH), and wooden logs (W), straw in a rack (S) or paper (P) were also used. The pigs were subjected to two pre-slaughter treatments: 0 or 12 hours of fasting. Their behaviour was observed for 12 weeks using scan and focal sampling. Samples of the Neutrophil: Lymphocyte (N:L) ratio and lactate were obtained from the pigs at 66 and 170 days old. Saliva samples for Chromogranin-A (CgA) were obtained at 67, 128, 164 and 170 days old. The weight, skin lesions and feed intake of the pigs were recorded. S triggered more exploratory behaviour than W and CH (P < 0.001). Skin lesions and redirected behaviour were lower for pigs with S (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). The pigs offered S presented lower CgA after no fasting than pigs with P or CH (P = 0.055). Lactate was higher in pigs with W and CH treatments, regardless of fasting (P < 0.05). The N:L ratio increased over time (P < 0.05). No other significant effects were found. Overall, straw in a rack was the enrichment material that enhanced pig inherent behaviour.

KEYWORDS:

Chromogranin-A; behaviour; environmental enrichment; lactate; meat quality; performance; pig; skin lesions

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