Effects of cognitive enrichment on behavioural and physiological reactions of pigs

Cognitive enrichment, a special form of environmental enrichment, addresses the cognitive abilities of animals in captivity.

Through cognitive interaction with the environment, the animals regain a certain control over their environment, and essential resources, such as food or water, act as a reward for successful coping. It is assumed that this process has important implications for animal welfare, especially in the intensive housing systems of farm animals.

This study investigates the effects of cognitive enrichment on welfare-relevant behaviour (agonistic interactions and behavioural reactivity in a repeated open-field test) and autonomic control (heart rate variability during feeding, resting and in a repeated open-field test) in domestic pigs. Continue reading Effects of cognitive enrichment on behavioural and physiological reactions of pigs

Tail biting in pigs – causes and management intervention strategies to reduce the behavioural disorder – a review

One of the largest animal welfare problems in modern pig production is tail biting. This abnormal behaviour compromises the well-being of the animals, can seriously impair animal health and can cause considerable economic losses. Tail biting has a multifactorial origin and occurs mainly in fattening pigs. High stocking densities, poor environment and bad air quality are . . . → Read More: Tail biting in pigs – causes and management intervention strategies to reduce the behavioural disorder – a review

Brain gene expression differences are associated with abnormal tail biting behavior in pigs

Knowledge about gene expression in animals involved in abnormal behaviors can contribute to understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms. The present study aimed to explore the motivational background to tail biting, an abnormal injurious behavior and severe welfare problem in pig production. Affymetrix microarrays were used to investigate gene expression differences in the hypothalamus and prefrontal cortex . . . → Read More: Brain gene expression differences are associated with abnormal tail biting behavior in pigs

The British pig health schemes: integrated systems for large-scale pig abattoir lesion monitoring

Pig health schemes based on abattoir inspections provide an integrated system to optimise the postmortem detection and the reporting of pathological lesions.

In Great Britain, two initiatives have been implemented by the pig industry: Wholesome Pigs Scotland (WPS) and the BPEX Pig Health Scheme (BPHS). These schemes record the presence of a range of pathological lesions detected by means of detailed inspection of the pluck and the skin of the slaughtered pigs. Continue reading The British pig health schemes: integrated systems for large-scale pig abattoir lesion monitoring

Essay: Decreasing stress, aggression and injury in pigs housed in intensive production systems

Introduction
Animal welfare issues are inherent in any intensive production system that restricts animals to an environment incompatible with their behavioural needs (D’Eath & Turner, 2009). For example, intensive husbandry practices, such as a mix of pigs in a confined space, can result in significant stress reactions and displays of aggressive behaviour through frustration or restriction of natural behaviour (Guy et al., 2009; Yonezawa et al., 2009). This paper will discuss the use of pig-appeasing pheromone (PAP) to reduce aggression and social stress generally, and the importance of tail posture in predicting incidents of tail-biting injury in post-weaning piglets.
Continue reading Essay: Decreasing stress, aggression and injury in pigs housed in intensive production systems