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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #436111

Research Project: Environmental Enrichment Effects on Pig Welfare During Lactation, Nursery and Grow-Finish Phases

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-013-055-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2018
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

Objective:
There is a need to provide a more stimulating environment for improved pig welfare, and this project will aim to test three different European environmental enrichment devices that appear suitable for U.S. production systems and measure their effects on slaughter pig welfare from birth to slaughter.

Approach:
The approaches to be used will be: 1) to determine the effects of environmental enrichment on welfare and productivity of suckling piglets from birth to weaning; 2) to determine the effects of environmental enrichment on welfare and productivity of nursery pigs from weaning to movement to the grow-finish barn; 3) to determine the effects of environmental enrichment on welfare and productivity of grow-finish pigs from entry to the grow-finish barn to slaughter; 4) to determine whether the provision at different stages of behavioral development and production impacts the effectiveness of environmental enrichment. Experiments 1a, 1b, and 1c will run sequentially, making a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial experiment of enriched versus non-enriched in each of lactation, nursery and grow-finish phases. Exp. 1a Environmental enrichment and suckling piglets. 60 sows and litters will be assigned to either a standard farrowing crate or a farrowing crate that with enrichment. Exp. 1b. Environmental enrichment and nursery pigs. 480 weaner pigs in groups of 6 will be assigned to either a standard fully-slatted pen or a pen equipped with enrichment. Piglets will be balanced for previous experience of enrichment, so that 4 treatments will applied: EE - enrichment during lactation and nursery (n=20 pens) EB - enrichment during lactation and no enrichment during nursery (n=20 pens) BE - no enrichment during lactation and enrichment during nursery (n=20 pens) BB – no enrichment during lactation and nursery (n=20 pens)