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Mixing feed in compost increases use of rooting areas for lying behaviour but not cleanliness for growing-finishing pigs

Knoll, Maximilian; Bokkers, Eddie A.M.; Leeb, Christine; Wimmler, Cäcillia; Andersen, Heidi Mai-Lis; Thomsen, Rikke; Früh, Barbara and Holinger, Mirjam (2021) Mixing feed in compost increases use of rooting areas for lying behaviour but not cleanliness for growing-finishing pigs. Paper at: 8th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE ASSESSMENT OF ANIMAL WELFARE AT FARM AND GROUP LEVEL, Virtual Conference, 16 - 19 August 2021. [Completed]

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Providing pigs with a rooting area filled with an appropriate material enables exploratory behaviour and is thus considered to improve animal welfare. Mixing corn pellets into the rooting material could increase use and exploration while reducing elimination behaviour in the areas. To investigate this hypothesis, on a farm we compared two experimental pens (E) with rooting areas filled with compost, into which 2 kg of corn pellets were mixed every morning, with two control pens (C, rooting areas filled with compost only). The experiment lasted 34 weeks with seven replicates in total. Group size ranged between 21-35 pigs (N = 386, x̃ = 29). We registered behaviour once a week through direct observations of the complete outdoor area and additional video recordings of the rooting area. Behavioural variables were activity or resting, rooting, agonistic and play behaviour. We assessed cleanliness of the rooting material via visual scoring and chemical analysis of compost samples. The latter included tests on dry matter content, conductivity, and ammonium concentration as indicators for urine in the material. Data were analysed with linear mixed-effects models. Results showed that there was a tendency for a higher number of pigs in the rooting area in E than in C (p=0.06). In E, more pigs were lying in the rooting area than in C (p=0.04). There was no difference in activity and rooting behaviour between treatments. The overall use of the outdoor run did not differ between treatments. Time of day influenced all recorded behaviours in the rooting area (p<0.001). Conductivity and ammonium concentration in the compost increased the longer the compost remained in the rooting area (p<0.001) with no difference between treatments, indicating animals in both groups used the rooting areas for elimination. We conclude that mixing corn pellets into rooting material increases the use of rooting areas for lying behaviour, but not rooting behaviour and cleanliness.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Tierwohl, animal welfare, pigs, Abacus, FiBL55314, POWER
Agrovoc keywords:
animal welfare
pigs -> swine
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Pigs
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University
European Union > CORE Organic Cofund > POWER
Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal welfare
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Pigs
Netherlands > Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
Denmark > Other organizations
Related Links:https://www.wafl2021.com/
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:42702
Deposited On:27 Oct 2021 14:34
Last Modified:27 Oct 2021 14:34
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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