Rooting area and drinker affect dunging behaviour of organic pics

H.M. Vermeer*, H. Altena, P.F.G. Vereijken, M.B.M. Bracke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Hygiene is a common problem on outdoor runs of growing organic pigs. Manure and urine are mainly excreted outdoors and tend to spread all over the run. Reducing the soiled surface area may be beneficial to animal welfare, hygiene, ammonia emissions and labour, not only in organic but also in conventional systems. The objective was to reduce the soiled surface area in the pen and to make the outdoor run more attractive for pigs. Introduction of a rooting area and drinker in the outdoor run was tested in a 2 × 2 factorial design. In total, four replicates were studied in a room with two rows of four pens containing 14 pigs each. More pigs went outdoors in pens with rooting area access than in pens without a rooting area (11.2 vs. 8.5%, P = 0.003). This was due to more pigs entering the rooting area and an adjacent slatted floor. Addition of a drinker did not attract more pigs outdoors (P = 0.53). The rooting area improved the cleanliness of the whole pen (P < 0.001). However, in some cases the rooting area was also used as a dunging area. The area around the additional outdoor drinker was cleaner, but on the whole, pens were dirtier (P = 0.011). Introduction of an outdoor drinker resulted in more indoor pen fouling, especially around the indoor drinker (P < 0.001). An outdoor rooting area makes the outdoor run more attractive for pigs and reduces the dunging area. This study contributes to the knowledge base on how to reduce the dunging surface in pens for organic pigs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-71
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Behaviour
  • Drinking
  • Dunging
  • Organic
  • Pigs
  • Rooting


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