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Environmental enrichment, behavioural development and welfare of pigs - AW0124

UK Legislation requires that pigs be provided with substrates which allow them to satisfy their behavioural needs and suggests that straw is such a substrate. However, a significant proportion of the UK pig industry currently houses weaned and growing pigs in straw-free systems and has a requirement to identify alternative substrates which are compatible with existing building design, health considerations and regional farming constraints on straw use. The objective of this project is therefore to identify effective methods of providing environmental enrichment for pigs and to investigate the role of exploratory behaviour induced by such enrichment in behavioural development and ability to cope with stressors.

To this end, initial studies will use multivariate analyses to identify the properties of substrates which promote and maintain exploratory behaviour in pigs of different ages. Once such properties have been identified, substrates which incorporate the optimal combination of properties will be designed, and their longer term effect on behaviour will be quantified. Enrichment will then be provided at different stages in early life to determine whether behavioural development can be influenced, and whether there is a critical period for such effects. The consequenses for the pig's ability to cope with stressors routinely experienced during the production cycle will be examined, including the possible effects of modified stress physiology on meat quality. The partners in the project represent all sectors of the pig industry, allowing rapid transfer of results into commercial practice.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Environmental enrichment, behavioural development and welfare of pigs   (319k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2000

To: 2003

Cost: £269,124
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Aberdeen, ADAS UK Ltd., University - Newcastle
Livestock Farming              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare