The aim of this experiment was to determine the interactive effects of handling and environmental enrichment on the behaviour, performance and welfare of the growing/finishing pig. Groups of pigs were exposed to one of eight treatments arranged in a 2 x 4 factorial design with two levels of handling (M: minimal and P: pleasant), and four levels of environmental enrichment (13: barren, C: chain, S: chopped straw, or T: destructible toy). Daily food intake was significantly affected by handling during 1-6 weeks with the P groups eating slightly more food than the M groups (1.88 kg per day versus 1.75 kg, per day; S.E.D. = 0.077; P <0.05), however, this increased intake was not reflected in daily live-weight gain or food conversion ratio during the same period. The time taken for a roup of pigs to exit their pen during a routine handling test was significantly affected by the handling treatments (46.2 s versus 37.8 s for P and M groups to exit their pen respectively; S.E.D. = 3.38; P <0.05). Behavioural time budgets, and postmortem muscle pH and stomach lesion scores were unaffected by treatment. These results suggest that pleasantly handled pigs are more difficult to move during routine husbandry tasks which may be mediated through their reduced fear of humans. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- weanling pigs
- early contact