Linking animal management to behaviour, and freshwater use and waste, in fattening pigs

S. Misra, Eddy Bokkers, John Upton, Amy J. Quinn, Keelin O’Driscoll

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

Pigs are often housed on fully slatted floors with minimal enrichment. This can cause unwanted behaviours such as drinker manipulation, leading to water wastage. Supplementary enrichment can direct exploratory behaviour away from drinkers. Larger group sizes are associated with less time per pig at drinkers. We compared the effects of group size and enrichment on pig behaviour, water usage, and wastage. Pigs (n=672) were assigned to treatment at 11 weeks of age (30-35 kg). A two (enrichment; HIGH or LOW) by three factorial (SMALL=12 pigs, MEDIUM=24 pigs, LARGE=48 pigs/pen) design was applied with same stocking density. All pens had a hanging toy and a wooden post/12 pigs. HIGH enrichment pens had a rack with fresh grass/12 pigs in addition to the standard enrichment. Meters installed at each drinker measured water use. Wastewater from each drinker was collected (hourly) between, 09:30- 16:00 once/week for 6 weeks. Animal behaviour was recorded using direct observation and all occurrences recording for 4×5 minute observation periods per pen once/week for 9 weeks. The number and duration of drinking bouts at each drinker, and total drinker occupancy, was extracted from 1 h video recording. Data were analysed using SAS v 9.4. Group size had an effect on aggressive and harmful behaviour (P<0.001). SMALL groups expressed more aggressive and harmful behaviours compared to MEDIUM and LARGE groups. Pigs in the HIGH pens also performed less harmful behaviour than LOW (P<0.001). Moreover, in the HIGH treatment, pigs interacted more with the enrichment (P<0.001). Group size didn’t affect drinking bout number, bout duration and occupancy/hr. However, LOW had a greater number of drinking bouts (24.4 bouts/drinker/hr) than HIGH (15.5 bouts/drinker/hr, P=0.037). LOW enrichment pigs spent more time occupying the drinker than HIGH (P<0.05). Group size had no effect on the water usage and wastage, but pigs in LOW (11.0±0.4 l/pig/day) used more water than HIGH (10.4±0.4 l/pig/day), because of more wastewater (P<0.05). Fresh grass as HIGH enrichment allowance may .have benefits for both the environment and animal welfare
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
EditorsLaura Boyle, Keelin O'Driscoll
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Pages212-212
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869015
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
Event8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021

Conference

Conference8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
Abbreviated titleWAFL 2021
CountryIreland
CityCork
Period16/08/2119/08/21

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