Environmental Enrichment for Young Pigs
Environmental Enrichment for Young Pigs Promotes Positive Welfare
Pigs are naturally curious and social animals who are highly motivated to explore their environment as they would do in their natural woodland habitat. In the wild, pigs spend their time rooting, biting, chewing, burrowing, foraging and exploring.
EU-legislation insists that pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material in order to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities. This material is called environmental enrichment and refers to any changes that are designed to improve the pigs living conditions, by encouraging the demonstration of a wider range of natural pig behaviours.
The benefits of providing environmental enrichment to pigs include;
- Reduces the frequency of aggressive behaviour (tail biting, ear biting etc.)
- Increase the pig’s ability to deal with challenges in a more natural way.
- Broaden the range of behaviours expressed.
- Improve production performance (feed intake, average daily gain, feed conversion ratio).
- Reduce stress.
Weaning is a stressful time for pigs. The changes they go through include environmental, social and nutritional changes. These changes can lead to increased incidences of facial and ear necrosis, tail biting, flank biting and navel sucking. Redirected behaviour like this can help prevent, by offering environmental enrichment so that the pigs can satisfy their exploratory urges.
Providing environmental enrichment to piglets pre-weaning has a positive effect on promoting natural behaviour and reducing the level of stress in a critical period like at weaning (Yang, et al., 2018). A reduction in stress levels can lead to pigs being more resilient, less susceptible to disease and easier to move and handle.
Aggression occurs in pigs for many reasons. Pigs fight with each other to establish a dominance hierarchy, to fight for food and to fight to ensure they are left alone. Environmental enrichment at a young age also reduces aggression in piglets after weaning (McKenny, et al., 2007).
The EASYFIX® Luna 50 allows piglets to explore by rooting, sniffing, biting and chewing. It remains at floor level in order to encourage the natural exploratory behaviour of piglets in the wild. The EASYFIX® Luna 50 is accessible as numerous piglets can interact with the device at any one time. The unique design ensures it doesn’t get stuck in corners and it remains clean and hygienic. Compared to other forms of environmental enrichment, the EASYFIX® Luna 50 is easily sourced, cost-effective, easy to install and also safe for the farmer to handle.
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McKenny, L. et al., 2007. The effects of provided enrichment in the sucker phase on piglet scratch score post-weaning. Animal Production Science, Issue 57, p. 12.
Yang, C.-H.et al., 2018. Pre-weaning environmental enrichment increases piglets object play behaviour on a large scale commercial farm. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Issue 202, pp. 7-12.