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Pork Producers Encouraged to Consider Positive Effects of Play on Pig Health and Welfare and on Profitability
Karolina Steinerova - Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Farmscape for March 20, 2024

A researcher with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is encouraging pork producers to consider the positive health and economic effects of exposing their pigs to opportunities for play.
Research conducted through the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare Research Program shows grower finisher pigs exposed to play will display less aggression, recover quicker when exposed to disease and demonstrate higher average daily gain, than those not exposed to play.
Karolina Steinerova, a PhD student with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says this work has multiple implications.

Quote-Karolina Steinerova-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We know that pigs play when they are young, between two to six weeks of age and they perform excitable movement during locomotive play, they play together so that's social play, they also like to play with objects.
They also like to play with objects.
That's all happening during early development and we know it has benefits for their development.
It enhances social skills, cognition, and also motor skills but we really wanted to know whether this can be carried over to later stages of the production and how it influences the pig later in life.
This project is targeting producers.
We would really like them to embrace the value of positive welfare through promotion of play and also try to understand that it can be beneficial to promote positive welfare on farm.
We also want to incorporate this into animal care assessment programs and add it to Pork Quality Assurance.
This work can also open doors for international markets demanding higher welfare or also create opportunities for niche markets.
So really now we want to make play promotion more applicable for producers, for example, through enrichment routines or management tasks with consideration for pig preferences, which is the preference for novelty and also create positive associations with the pig and the stakeholder.

Full details of this research can be accessed at
For more visit Farmscape.Ca.
Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers

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