Pigs grow quicker when they are placed in a group where the chemistry is optimal.
Such is the result of a study by the Dutch Institute for Pig Genetics (IPG) and the Genomics Centre of Wageningen University.
The institutes discovered that it is possible to select pigs and to breed them with a particular social behaviour.
As to how much profit such a selection process delivers in terms of quicker growth, both organisations are unsure at present. Potential profit increases are certainly possible for pig producers. With the same feed, average growth is quicker and the path to slaughter can be shortened.
The study shows that the interaction between one pig and another has a big effect on growth. According to Wageningen researcher, Piter Hijma, “by mixing socially-interactive pigs with a group of other pigs, the latter group tends to grow quicker”.
Pigs that “get on” better in a group, tend to invest less energy in fighting among each other. Further study into this phenomenon is planned.
Hijma hopes that further research will show that there is a connection with animal welfare. “If pigs are bred better on a social behaviour level, then not only are the producers happy, but also the public at large and animal welfare organisations.