Fresh wood, plastic pipe or metal chain – which objects reduce tail and ear biting on commercial pig farms?

Research output: Conference materialsPosterpeer-review


Our aim was to test three low-cost point-source manipulable objects for pigs to see whether they sustain pigs’ interest for three months and yield welfare benefits. Two Finnish commercial farms with undocked pigs and partially slatted floors were used. Experiment 1 included 780 growing-finishing pigs from the age of 2 months to slaughter. Control pens (C, n=17), and all treatment pens, had a straw rack, a metal chain and wood shavings. Treatment pens had additional objects: horizontally suspended pieces of fresh wood, 30 cm/pig (W, n=14); a cross of two 60-cm polythene pipes (P, n=13); two crosses of metal chains (B, n=15); or all of the above (WPB, n=14). After 3 months, tail and ear damage were scored and the pens were video-recorded. Behaviour was scored during a 20-minute period. Experiment 2 included 656 growing-finishing pigs from weaning to slaughter. The control pens (C, n=16), and all treatment pens, had a straw rack. Treatment pens also had one of the following, suspended horizontally, 10 cm/pig: pieces of birch wood (W, n=16), or polythene pipe (P, n=12). After 4 months, tail and ear damage were scored, and the latency to approach an unfamiliar person (LAP) was recorded. Treatment effects were tested with one-way ANOVA (SPSS 21). In Experiment 1, the prevalence of undamaged tails was higher in W and WPB (mean 55% in both) than in C (34%; P<0.05). Pigs manipulated objects more frequently in W, P and WPB (2.7, 2.9 and 3.1 manipulations/pig/20 min) than in B (0.8) and C (0.5) (P<0.001). In Experiment 2, W had less ear damage, using a 5-point scale (1.3) than P and C (1.8 and 1.9; P<0.01). LAP was shorter in W (8.8 s) than in P and C (17.3 s and 15.4 s, P<0.05). Horizontally suspended pieces of fresh wood can improve welfare in commercial pig farming.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2014
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
Event48th International Congress of Applied Ethology (ISAE). Moving on. - Vitoria-Gasteiz, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Duration: 29 Jul 20142 Aug 2014
Conference number: 48


Other48th International Congress of Applied Ethology (ISAE). Moving on.

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