Preliminary assessment of finishing pig welfare using animal-based measurements
A preliminary investigation was undertaken to evaluate a series of animal-based welfare measures for the assessment of finishing pigs in units that were members of the RSPCA Freedom Food farm assurance scheme. A total of 20 finishing pig units were visited in the summer of 2002 and 14 of these were revisited in late winter 2003. Behavioural observations of the pigs, both undisturbed and disturbed by the observer, were made in 128 pens containing 9,444 pigs and the physical condition of 650 individuals was examined. A range of event behaviours were observed including social interactions. Play behaviour was observed in 66% of pens during ten-minute observation periods. The prevalence of physical conditions varied greatly between units. The most prevalent skin lesion was on the flank (40.8%) however, only 4.5% of pigs had both fresh and healed flank lesions suggestive of persistent fighting.
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