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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Environmental Enrichment for Dairy Calves and Pigs

Author
item Morrow, Julie

Submitted to: Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Environmental enrichment has been required for laboratory primates in the United States since 1985 when the animal welfare act was amended. This is not the case, however, for farm animals. Enrichment and the study of environmental enrichment stems from the development of abnormal behaviors in confined animals. Thus, the goal of environmental enrichment is to reduce problems created by confinement housing systems. Two separate research projects were summarized. The first project identified group housing of dairy calves and types of enrichment devices preferred by calves as well as how provision of these devices might alter behavior. Enrichment devices providing a substrate to suck on was preferred by calves. Oral behavior occurred for a similar amount of time whether enrichment devices were provided for the calves or not. The second project was a study to determine behavioral, immunological and brain development changes between pigs reared outdoor or indoors (in a more typical confinement system). Pigs housed outdoors were more active, showed more oral and rooting behavior and had higher white blood cell counts. The only differences found in brain structure was in the portion of the brain responsible for hearing (auditory cortex). There were more complex cells in the auditory cortex of pigs raised outdoors than indoors. The pig research indicates that confinement housing systems are not depriving to animals as determined by the methods available from the early psychology literature (i.e. brain development). This suggests that we may be able to use what we currently know about behavior-environment interaction in production environments to make a difference in the well-being of the animal.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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