Providing meaningful environmental enrichment and measuring saliva cortisol in pigs housed on slatted flooring

Liat Morgan, Tal Raz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

As pork is the most consumed meat worldwide, the welfare of animals in the swine industry has increasingly become a major public concern, which imposes a substantial pressure coming from customers, legislators and other stakeholders, to make management changes to improve the well-being of these animals. Several studies have demonstrated that providing environmental enrichment to pigs allows them to express their natural behavior, such as rooting and exploring, as well as nesting prior to farrowing, and is associated with reduced stress and improved production and welfare. However, many considerations should be taken into account when providing environmental enrichment, such as the type of floor, drainage and sewage systems, the pigs' stage in life, the material, as well as its hanging method, height and location within the pen. The objectives of this paper are (1) to give methodologic information on how to provide a relatively simple and practical meaningful environmental enrichment for pigs which are housed on slatted floors during the different stages of their life, and (2) to demonstrate how to collect saliva samples for the measurement of cortisol concentrations, as a biomarker for acute stress. Protocols include information regarding the use of jute, cotton ropes, straw in racks, as well as chewable silicone sticks devices as environmental enrichment in pens of farrowing and lactation, weaners and finishers. In addition, the use of cotton rope for a non-invasive saliva samples collection for cortisol concentrations analysis is detailed. The protocols provided are relevant for professionals aiming to improve and monitor animal welfare, in both research and industrial swine farming.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere60070
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Volume2019
Issue number151
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Journal of Visualized Experiments.

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Behavior
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Food animal production
  • Issue 151
  • Pig
  • Saliva cortisol
  • Swine industry

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