The effect of enrichment on the behaviour, welfare and performance of early-weaned piglets in slatted flatdeck housing
Consideration of the welfare of the weaner pig requires knowledge of the needs of the animal and determining how these needs may be accommodated in commercial housing. Piglets raised in extensive conditions spend much of their day engaged in exploratory behaviours, including rooting, nosing, shaking and chewing objects. Research indicates that exploratory activity is important for the animal's well-being. Flatdeck accommodation with slatted flooring is coming under increasing critisism on welfare grounds in that it offers little outlet for such behaviours. As a consequence, piglets tend to redirect these behaviours towards penmates which is undesirable. Supplementing the pen with objects which enable normal exploratory behaviours may create an environment more suited to the needs of the piglet. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of environmental enrichment on the behaviour, welfare and performance of early-weaned piglets.