Simulating pigs. Understanding their motivations, behaviour, welfare and productivity


Simulating pigs. Understanding their motivations, behaviour, welfare and productivity

Promovendus IJMM (Iris) Boumans MSc
Promotor IJM (Imke) de Boer
Copromotor EAM (Eddy) Bokkers GJ (Gert Jan) Hofstede
Organisatie Wageningen University, Animal Production Systems

vr 1 september 2017 13:30 tot 15:00

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen

Virtual pigs provide insight in the relation between behaviour, welfare and productivity

Current pig farming faces the challenge to produce both economically viable and animal friendly. A frequently asked question is: can we combine productivity and animal welfare, or benefits one at the expense of the other? This research shows that understanding the behaviour of a pig is central to answer this question. Eating behaviour, for example, influences productivity through growth, but also animal welfare through stress and aggression as a result of competition around the feed trough. Studying virtual pigs by using a computer simulation gives insight into the emergence of behavioural patterns and the relationship of these patterns with growth and welfare of individual pigs. For example, pigs have a typical 24 hour eating rhythm with a morning and afternoon peak. Results show that competition around the trough during peak hours can lead to both reduced growth and reduced welfare. Whether the growth and welfare of a specific pig are affected depends on the personality of that pig and its group members. The absence of a morning peak can be a sign of limited growth and reduced welfare for a low ranking pig. Information about behavioural patterns is important for early identification of problems in pigs and contributes to economically viable and animal friendly pig farming.