Toys and other environmental enrichment to enhance pig welfare the best are rather difficult to comply with professional management systems.
Pig and piglet welfare increases most by giving the animals straw or roughage in troughs – however, this is usually very time and cost consuming.
These are some of the major conclusions of a research report drawn up by the Animal Sciences Group, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.
The research, asked for by the Dutch pig farmers trade union NVV, the Dutch agri- and horticultural organisation LTO and the Dutch ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality, focused on ten environmental enrichment tools – and judged them for e.g. welfare, cost, hygiene, labour time and influence on results and health.
The team researched a pen without enrichment, a metal chain, a plastic ball, an additional feeder with clapper mechanism, a rubber toy, a rope, a hardwood beam, a straw rack, roughage in trough and a pen with deep straw bedding.
Straw and roughage in troughs eventually had the best scores – although both are time- and cost consumign. In addition, straw is difficult when dealing with manure. Roughage seems to make manure more sticky, making pig pens filthy quicker.
â€¢ Animal Sciences Group
â€¢ Wageningen University and Research Centre
â€¢ Dutch pig farmers trade union (NVV; in Dutch)
â€¢ Dutch agri- and horticultural organisation (LTO; in Dutch)
â€¢ Dutch ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality
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