Floor based rubber toys are better for keeping pigs happy, according to Teagasc researchers.
Reporting in the latest Teagasc Pig Development Department newsletter, Dr Keelin O’Driscoll pointed out that provision of manipulable material is a legal requirement in pig production, but is difficult in slatted systems.
She said the most effective devices for reducing harmful behaviours among pigs are manipulable and destructive.
Rubber devices that can be chewed and gradually wear away have been shown to be reasonably effective.
However, most of these have been suspended from the ceiling or wall, and don’t necessarily satisfy the pigs’ desire to root and move material around.
A short trial in Moorepark investigated new floor toys produced by Easyfix of Co Galway.
The trial showed pigs had more interactions with floor toys than hanging ones, and each interaction lasted about five times longer.
The pigs appeared to be queuing up to use the floor toys. There was no problem with tail health in the trial group of pigs, but it was found that when pigs had more floor toys, they had less damage to the ears.
There were no problems due to the floor toys getting dirty or being trapped in the automatic feeder.
Overall, the floor toy appeared more attractive to the pigs than commonly used hanging toys, with no problems of hygiene, and very little management involved.
EasyFix claim that their pig toy reduces tail biting and keeps pigs occupied.
With moulded “biting” wedges attached, it can occupy up to six pigs at a time — and can be suspended if necessary, to save floor space.
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