Increasing piglets’ social skills

Pig welfare is a societal concern, partly due to the intensive rearing conditions. One welfare concern is aggression between newly regrouped pigs. Aggression may be reduced by putting several groups of piglets together when young; termed socialization. This paper reports the effects of socialization of piglets on sow udder quality and pig behaviour and growth. Pigs were socialized by either joining two litters (32 sows; 16 groups) at 14 days of age or not joining them (33 sows). At weaning, the sows of socialized groups had more udder damage than the controls. Socialized piglets had double the amount of bite injuries (skin lesions) than controls the day after socialization, but had 19% fewer skin lesions at regrouping at eight weeks old when injuries are more numerous and severe. At 11 weeks old, there was no difference between the groups. In a test for aggressiveness, socialized pigs attacked more often and quicker, showing greater confidence in agonistic skills. Socialization means additional work for farmers and may cause more udder damage, but has beneficial effects for pig behaviour and welfare at later regrouping.

Camerlink, I.; Farish, M.; D’Eath, R.B.; Arnott, G.; Turner, S.P. Long Term Benefits on Social Behaviour after Early Life Socialization of Piglets. Animals 2018, 8, 192.

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