Effects of Enrichment Objects on Piglet Growth and Behaviour
The purpose of this study was to perform an initial evaluation of pigs’ preferences for several enrichment objects and examine their effects on piglet growth and welfare during the nursery period. Thirty litters were selected at farrowing and assigned to three treatments: enrichment provided post-weaning (EN), enrichment provided both pre- and post-weaning (EFN), and no enrichment provided (Control). Enrichment consisted of a series of object enrichments, with three or four enrichments provided at once, and rotated twice weekly. Enrichment had no effect on growth during the nursery phase, but enrichment given before weaning (EFN) resulted in reduced penmate manipulation and a tendency for reduced aggression. The suspended enrichments were most frequently contacted compared to objects placed on the floor. Enriched pigs showed greater exploration at 21 d post-weaning compared to Controls, and pigs in the EN treatment had fewer skin lesions on the head and shoulders at 25 d post-weaning. Physical enrichment objects show promise for improving piglet welfare and are feasible for implementation in intensive operations.
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