CZAAWE Resource Article

Effects of straw bedding on physiological responses to stressors and behavior in growing pigs
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
1998
Publication/Journal 
Physiology & Behavior
ISBN 
0031-9384
Abstract 
To study the effects of environmental enrichment on physiological responses to stressors and behavior in growing pigs, pigs were housed in either a poor environment (standard farrowing pens followed by standard rearing and fattening pens) or in an enriched environment (larger farrowing pens followed by larger rearing and fattening pens, provision of straw). Body temperature, heart rate and salivary cortisol were measured during baseline conditions and in response to relocation, isolation and restraint. Pigs housed in the poor environment performed more manipulative social behavior directed to penmates than pigs housed in the enriched environment. Physiological responses to the stressors were the same for enriched- and poor-housed pigs. Surprisingly, enriched-housed pigs had significantly higher baseline salivary cortisol concentrations, especially at 14 and 17 weeks of age. Moreover, enriched housed pigs had a lower baseline body temperature at 17 weeks of age. Thus, provision of straw has an effect on behavior, baseline HPA-axis activity and baseline body temperature in growing pigs.