Effect of light intensity on behaviour, health and growth of growing-finishing pigs

A.J. Scaillierez*, S.E. van Nieuwamerongen - de Koning, I.J.M.M. Boumans, P.P.J. van der Tol, S.K. Schnabel, E.A.M. Bokkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The effect of light intensity has been explored in relation to endocrine functions and reproduction in pigs, but effects on health and behaviour are scarcely documented. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of different light intensities on behaviour, health and growth of growing-finishing pigs. An experiment was conducted on a commercial farm equipped with light-emitting diode-based luminaires creating four light intensity treatments: low (45 lux), medium (198 lux), high (968 lux) and spatial gradient of intensity (from 71 lux to 330 lux). Per treatment, 112 pigs were studied in two batches of eight pens. Once every two weeks behaviours such as exploration, positive and negative social interactions, play and abnormal behaviours were observed. Health issues were assessed weekly and included biting lesions, skin lesions, leg and respiratory disorders. The average daily gain over the experiment was calculated and after slaughter carcasses were inspected. Generalised linear mixed models were used for the analysis of behaviours, binary health scores, carcass abnormalities, ordinal logistic regression for multilevel health scores, and linear mixed models for average daily gain. Interactions between intensity and week were found for some behaviours (i.e., exploration, negative social interactions and abnormal behaviour) and health issues (i.e., tear stains, conjunctivitis, body lesions, bursitis and tail lesions). However, none of the treatments consistently outperformed another one. Light treatments did not affect pig growth and carcass abnormalities. These variable results support studies suggesting that pigs are adaptable to light intensities, and inconsistencies over weeks might have been caused by environmental factors that could not be controlled in a commercial farm setting. To conclude, tested light intensities had no clear effects on pig behaviour, health and growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101092
JournalAnimal
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Fattening pigs
  • Health assessment
  • Illuminance
  • Performance

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