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Manipulable materials - are you using them?

It's an ongoing discussion - mainpulable materials in a pig house seem quite incompatible with a slatted flooring system. Why not consider the relatively simple idea of straw racks?

In the UK, as part of our legislative requirement,  growing and finishing pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material  (such as

straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat) to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities.

However, it is felt that most pig


farmers are ignoring this or only paying lip service to it, especially if the pigs are on slatted floors and materials either block up the slats or drop straight through. How do you get over the problem or are there any innovative ideas to solve the problem?

Scrutiny
Increasingly the way we keep pigs is coming under more and more scrutiny. The pressure from welfare lobbies is growing and both national and EU government are listening to them.

So how do we keep pigs in a welfare-friendly way yet maintain many of the production advantages that have been seen with slatted floor systems over the years?

From a veterinary point of view, I like them, as the pigs are cleaner, dung and urine is easily disposed of, there is usually less enteric disease and also PMWS.

On the other hand I suspect the pigs get bored and start using other pigs as potentially manipulable materials, until a full blown tail-biting or ear-biting epidemic starts.

Toys
Toys and other objects are sometimes used, but according to our welfare codes these should be changed every week again to stop boredom. Balls, lumps of wood, chains, alkathene-pipe helicopters have all been used, but with moderate success.

On one farm, I saw straw racks being used, which were surprisingly effective. A relatively simple idea, which gave the pigs access to straw without it blocking up the slats or having to chop it up and wasting most of it.

Have you got any ideas that can be easily adopted to solve the problem?

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4 comments

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    student

    wooden sticks,branches maybe

  • no-profile-image

    Hal Hickton

    Straw racks seem a good idea. Just started last week to put Humane Hog rings in the grouped sows noses. It works exceedingly well. Straw racks may be the nex step.

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    PIXIE TAIWHATI

    HI THERE, I AM A SUPERVISOR ON A FARM IN NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND, AND OF LATE OUR GROWERS ARE RIGHT INTO TAIL BITING, WE ONLY HAVE THEM AT 12 IN LARGE PENS WITH PLENTY OF ROOM TO MOVE LAZE AROUND ETC.. HOWEVER I DID NOTICE THAT ONE ANIMAL THAT ALSO HAD TAIL BITEN BEATING UP ON A SMALLER GILT AND REALLY BITING HARD ON THIS POOR GIRLS TAIL, I TOOK HER OUT AS SHE WAS VERY BEATEN AND GIVEN ANTIBIOTICS, BUT I SURE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING, IS SALT AND ISSUE? OR IS IT MORE BORDEM?WE DID USE PIG PAX WHICH DID HELP A LITTLE I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN YOUR COMMENTS KIND REGARDS PIXIE

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    noni Ward

    run free range, allow them to dig, no tail biting or ear biting on this farm. All have long curly tails which tell a story on their own. All are happy pigs that can dig and lay around.
    noni ward

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