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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Edge,
Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards
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The practice of nose-ringing outdoor pigs has been questioned on ethical grounds, although nose-rings are widely used commercially to reduce the pasture damage that is caused by indiscriminate rooting of the paddock. Nose-rings have been proven to reduce the occurrence of such behaviours, and this is suggested as being due to the discomfort that is felt each time the snout comes into contact with a hard surface. The aim of this experiment was to seek a successful alternative to this practice. Sixteen multiparous sows were housed in groups of four and randomly allocated to one of the four dietary treatments in a 4 × 4 Latin square design. Treatment A acted as a control and had no rooting area in the paddock; treatments B-D were all provided with a rooting area consisting of a 15 m × 2 m strip of ploughed land (total paddock area 35 m × 33 m). Sows in treatment B received 5 kg of swedes/sow (Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica) spread over the surface of the paddock in addition to their daily concentrate feed ration. Treatment C received 5 kg of swedes/sow buried in the rooting area, again in addition to their daily ration of concentrate feed. Sows on treatment D also received 5 kg swedes/sows buried in the rooting area, but in this treatment the concentrate ration was reduced by 0.5 kg/sow to provide a complete diet isoenergetic to that offered to the control sows. Sows that received swedes spent significantly less time rooting the paddock (excluding the sacrificial area) when compared to the control sows (A = 8.7%, B = 5.7%, C = 6.6%, D = 4.7%, P < 0.001). The paddock which housed sows receiving the isoenergetic diet (containing swedes) had numerically higher levels of vegetation cover at the end of the 8-week period (55% cover) although this was not significantly different from the other three treatments (A = 31%, B = 38%, C = 30%). Although the provision of swedes reduced paddock rooting behaviour it appears that this is not an exclusive determinant of paddock damage, and therefore, this strategy cannot be recommended as a sole commercial alternative to nose-ringing sows. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Edge HL, Bulman CA, Edwards SA
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Print publication date: 01/07/2005
ISSN (print): 0168-1591
ISSN (electronic): 1872-9045
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