Influence of enrichment materials on the behaviour and productive traits of fattening pigs
Keywords:pig, welfare, aggressive behaviour, enrichment materials, cortisol level
In industrial complexes, the environment for fattening pigs has limited space and often does not respect natural behaviour of pigs. The implementation of EU legislation in Ukraine requires from farmers to use enrichment materials that improve the welfare of pigs. This article shows possible solution for big industrial challenge – creating of comfortable conditions for pigs, which meet their ethological needs. The experiment was performed on 180 pigs. From 77 days of age, all experimental animals were divided into three groups (on the principle of analogues) of 60 heads in each. As criteria of aggressive social behaviour the fights and biting were chosen. It was found that at the first period of fattening in pigs of the control group (no enrichment materials) 24 cases of biting were registered, in animals with straw blocks (experimental group II) – 6, with plastic bottles filled with grain (experimental group III) – 4 cases. At the second period of fattening, the situation regarding intragroup aggression was identical to the first one, which was reflected by the level of the cortisol in the blood serum. Among pigs that had free access to enrichment materials, a significant increase in their live weight by 2.4–5.8%, and in average daily gain by 1.4–27.6% compared with animals in the control group was registered. This study aims to prove that the use of enrichment materials for fattening pigs helps to identify their natural behaviour in industrial complexes, avoids social aggression, increases productivity and improves their welfare.
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