Alternatives to nose-ringing in outdoor sows: 1. The provision of a sacrificial rooting area

Bornett, H. L. I.; Edge, H. L. and Edwards, S. A. (2003). Alternatives to nose-ringing in outdoor sows: 1. The provision of a sacrificial rooting area. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 83(4) pp. 267–276.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-1591(03)00143-6

Abstract

The nose-ringing of outdoor pigs (Sus scrofa) is commonly practised in many countries as a means to inhibit rooting and reduce pasture damage and soil erosion. This practice has been questioned on ethical grounds and alternatives are being sought. Sixteen multiparous pregnant sows were housed in groups of four and randomly allocated to one of the four treatments in a 4×4 Latin square design. Treatment A had no rooting area whilst Treatments B–D were provided with a rooting area consisting of a m strip of ploughed land supplemented with 200 kg of spent mushroom compost. Sows on Treatments A and B received their entire daily feed ration on the ground at the front of the paddock, Treatment C received half of their ration on the ground and half buried in the rooting area, whilst Treatment D received all of their ration buried in the rooting area. Sows who received their entire daily ration buried in the rooting area (Treatment D) spent more time using the rooting area than those sows on Treatment C, who in turn spent more time using the rooting area than sows on Treatment B (P<0.001). Paddock damage was significantly affected by treatment with vegetation cover at the end of the experimental period increasing from Treatments A (0%) to D (30.4%, P<0.001). Although the provision of a sacrificial rooting area where food was provided reduced paddock damage, this reduction was not sufficiently great to recommend this approach as a sole commercial alternative to nose-ringing.

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