• Damaging Behaviour and Associated Lesions in Relation to Types of Enrichment for Finisher Pigs on Commercial Farms

      van Staaveren, Nienke; Hanlon, Alison; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 11/S/107 (MDPI AG, 2019-09-12)
      EU legislation states that all pigs must have access to material that allows them to perform investigation and manipulation activities, thereby reducing the risk of pigs performing damaging behaviours (e.g., tail, ear and flank biting). We aimed to determine associations between damaging behaviours performed by finisher pigs, the related lesions and the use of different types of enrichment. Six randomly selected pens of finisher pigs were observed for 10 min each on 31 commercial pig farms in Ireland. All pigs were counted and the number of pigs affected by tail, ear and flank lesions was recorded. During the last 5 min, all occurrences of damaging behaviour (tail-, ear- and flank-directed behaviour) were recorded. The type (chain, plastic or wood) and number of accessible enrichment objects/pen was recorded. Chains were the most common (41.4% of farms), followed by plastic (37.9%) and wood (20.7%). Damaging behaviour was more frequent on farms that provided chains compared to plastic or wood. Farms with chains were associated with a higher frequency of flank-directed behaviour and tended to be associated with a higher frequency of tail-directed behaviour compared to farms that provided plastic devices. The prevalence of lesions tended to be higher on farms where chains were provided compared to wooden enrichment devices, mostly driven by a difference in the prevalence of mild tail lesions. Results support expert opinions that despite being commonly used, chains did not fulfill a role in reducing damaging behaviours and associated lesions in finisher pigs compared to other forms of enrichment.
    • Multi-Stakeholder Focus Groups on Potential for Meat Inspection Data to Inform Management of Pig Health and Welfare on Farm

      van Staaveren, Nienke; Doyle, Bernadette; Hanlon, Alison; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 11/S/107 (MDPI AG, 2019-02-19)
      Meat inspection (MI) findings can act as a valuable source of information on pig health and welfare. The PIG WELFare INDicators (PIGWELFIND) project (Research Stimulus Fund 11/S/107) was developed to progress the development of ante and post mortem MI as a pig health and welfare diagnostic tool in Ireland. Three multi-stakeholder focus groups were organized to explore areas of conflict and agreement between stakeholders’ vision for including pig health and welfare indicators in MI and on how to achieve this vision. Each focus group consisted of eight stakeholders: pig producers, Teagasc pig advisors, pig processors, veterinarians involved in MI, private veterinary practitioners, and personnel with backgrounds in general animal health and welfare and food safety policy. In general, stakeholders expressed positive attitudes towards the use of MI data to inform pig health and welfare when standardization of recording and feedback is improved, and the MI system provides real-time benchmarking possibilities. Most emphasis was placed on health indicators as a first priority, while it was felt that welfare-related indicators could be included after practical barriers had been addressed (i.e., line speed/feasibility, standardization and training of meat inspectors, data ownership). Recommendations are made to further progress the development of MI as a pig health and welfare diagnostic tool and address some of these barriers.
    • Relationship between tail lesions and lung health in slaughter pigs

      van Staaveren, Nienke; Vale, Ana P.; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Teixeira, Dayane L.; Leonard, Finola C.; Hanlon, Alison; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; VCI Educational Trust Fund; RSF 11/S/107 (Elsevier, 2016-03-10)
      Tail lesions are associated with poor health either because they serve as a point of entry for pathogens or because of shared risk factors. This study investigated the relationship between carcass tail lesion and lung lesion severity scores in slaughter pigs. Carcasses were scored after scalding/dehairing for tail lesion severity (0–4). Lungs were scored according to an adapted version of the BPEX pig health scheme. Severity of enzootic pneumonia (EP-like lesions) was recorded on a scale of 0–50. Severity of pleurisy was scored on a 0–2 scale with score 2 equating to severe pleurisy or those lungs that remained attached to the chest wall (‘lungs in chest’). The database for assessing pleurisy lesions contained all pleurisy scores (n = 5628). Lungs with a score of 2 for pleurisy were excluded from the analysis of all other lung lesions as such lungs could not be assessed for other lesions (n = 4491). Associations between tail lesions and different lung lesion outcomes were analysed using generalized linear mixed models (PROC GLIMMIX) with random effect for batch. Males were more affected by moderate (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.51–2.34) and severe (OR = 5.8, 95% CI 3.45–9.70) tail lesions than females. EP-like lesions and pleurisy were most commonly observed. Pigs with severe tail lesions tended to have more ‘lungs in chest’ than pigs with moderate tail lesions (P = 0.1). No other associations between tail lesions and lung lesions were found. Males had higher odds of having EP-like lesions (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.05–1.36) than females. Tail lesions on the carcass may not be an accurate predictor of lung health. However, tail lesions are important welfare indicators and respiratory disease is a significant infectious condition affecting pigs. Thus, recording of tail and lung lesions at meat inspection provides valuable information regarding on-farm health and welfare of pigs.