CZAAWE Resource Article

The Effect of Environmental Manipulation on Behavior, Salivary Cortisol, and Growth of Piglets Weaned at 14 Days of Age
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2004
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Abstract 
Environmental enrichment can be a useful tool to reduce belly nosing behaviors in early weaned piglets. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of environmental enrichment on behavior, salivary cortisol, and productivity of piglets weaned at 14 days of age. The study assigned 112 piglets (line Camborough 22 of PIC) into 2 treatments, control and enriched, and observed them for 192 hr in 3 periods: 14 to 28 days of age (Phase 1), 28 to 42 days of age (Phase 2), and 42 to 54 days of age (Phase 3). The study obtained saliva samples in each phase from 56 piglets selected randomly from each group for cortisol determination. Comparisons between both treatments and phases included the following: proportion of time belly nosing, latency of approaching a person, average levels of salivary cortisol, and daily weight gain. Belly nosing was higher and latency of approaching a person lower in the control group than in the enriched one (p < .05 and p < .01). Belly nosing was lower in Phase 3 (p < .05); latency of approaching a person was higher in Phase 1 with respect to Phase 2, and this was higher with respect to Phase 3 (p < .01). There were no differences in salivary cortisol levels between treatments or phases. Weight gain was higher in the enriched group (p < .001). Environmental enrichment in piglets weaned at 14 days of age resulted in a reduced proportion of time nosing, reduced latency of response to humans, and better growth than piglets in barren environments.