CZAAWE Resource Article

Diversity of behaviour during novel object tests is reduced in pigs housed in substrate-impoverished conditions
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Animal Behaviour
Modern intensive farming conditions lack the diversity of substrates present in more natural environments and offer young animals fewer opportunities for interaction. Evidence exists that this may affect the organization of interactive patterns of behaviour, but shifts in behavioural diversity have not been measured directly. We investigated the effect of the substrate in the home pen on the diversity of behaviour in young growing pigs, Sus scrofa. Over 5 months, 26 pigs were housed singly in either substrate-impoverished (SI) or substrate-enriched (SE) conditions. Once every month we recorded the behaviour of these pigs in detail both in the home pens and in two novel object tests. In addition, we calculated the diversity of behaviour shown by SI and SE pigs in the home pen and in the novel object tests, using a relative behavioural diversity index. In the two novel object tests, SI pigs were less mobile than SE pigs and focused their behaviour on particular substrates. In addition, SI pigs showed less diverse behaviour than SE pigs. Our results show that the less diverse behaviour of SI pigs previously recorded in their home pens persists under novel conditions, supporting the hypothesis that substrate-impoverished housing conditions structurally affect the organization of behaviour in young growing pigs.