Does diversity matter? Behavioural differences between piglets given diverse or similar forms of enrichment pre‐weaning

Océane Schmitt*, Aurélie Poidevin, Keelin O’driscoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigated the behavioural effects of providing different enrichment materials to suckling piglets from 7 days‐old until weaning. One object was attached to the pen wall (WALL), and the other was suspended in the middle of the pen (MID). Control group had the hessian fabric in both locations, and the two diverse groups had hessian and bamboo stick in alternate locations (i.e. BMID‐HWALL and HMID‐BWALL). Piglets behaviour was recorded on D0 (object introduction), D1, D5, D8, D12, and D14; at weaning and 1, 3, 5 and 15 days after. Groups did not differ in approaching or interacting with objects on D0. MID objects attracted more attention than WALL objects (p < 0.01). Piglets interacted more with hessian than bamboo (p < 0.001). They performed more oral manipulation and shaking with hessian (p < 0.001), but more pushing of bamboo (p < 0.001). Interactions with objects increased with time (p < 0.001), especially with hessian (p < 0.01), while interest in bamboo remained unchanged. Control piglets performed more biting than piglets with diverse enrichment (pooled data), both pre‐ and post‐weaning (p < 0.05). Therefore, providing different types of enrichment material can reduce biting behaviour pre‐ and post-weaning. Hessian was favoured, possibly because this was easier to bite and shake, which were the behaviours most often observed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1837
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAnimals
Volume10
Issue number10
Early online date9 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 9 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Biting
  • Enrichment
  • Pigs
  • Pre‐weaning
  • Welfare

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