Measuring a Pig's Preference for Suspended Toys by Using an Automated Recording Technique

J.J. Zonderland, H.M. Vermeer, P.F.G. Vereijken, H.A.M. Spoolder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Not all suspended materials for finishing pigs are equally suited to meet the natural behavior of the animal, but the required physical properties of the toys have yet to be identified. The present study aimed to develop a labor saving electronic recording device for animal-material interactions. Furthermore, the study tested the attractiveness to pigs of a small number of material characteristics: orientation (horizontal vs vertical), destructibility and flexibility. These characteristics were combined in a factorial design with materials wood, rope, chain and pipe, either suspended horizontally or vertically. To test behavioral responses to the toys offered, video recordings of animal-material interactions were taken three times during the finishing period. No difference between horizontal and vertical suspension of the toys was found. The rope treatment gave the highest level of animal-material interactions, but the separate effects of its properties 'destructible' and 'flexible' could not be identified. Furthermore, because the rope had to be replaced regularly, the result was confounded by a degree of novelty. The electronic recording device, the 'play sensor', functioned well. However, when comparing different toys with unequal probability of accidental animalmaterial interaction, the calculation of a correction factor with which the device can be calibrated is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural Engineering International
Issue numberBC 01 010
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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