• Factors Influencing Farmer Willingness to Reduce Aggression between Pigs

      Peden, Rachel; Akaichi, Faical; Camerlink, Irene; Boyle, Laura; Turner, Simon; Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) (MDPI AG, 2018-12-22)
      Aggression between pigs remains an important animal welfare issue despite several solutions existing. Uptake of livestock welfare research relies on various stakeholders being willing to recommend or adopt changes to farm structure or management (e.g., veterinarians, researchers, farmers). This survey provides insight into the attitudes and practices of 122 UK and Irish pig farmers regarding aggression between growing pigs. Our aim was to understand why mitigation strategies are not adequately implemented. The majority of farmers mixed pigs at least once during production and had tried at least one mitigation strategy in the past. Farmers expressed limited willingness to implement strategies in the future, and a structural equation model revealed that this was directly influenced by their beliefs about the outcome of controlling aggression, and their perception of their ability to implement the necessary changes. Willingness was indirectly influenced by their perceptions of aggression as a problem and views of relevant stakeholder groups. Veterinarians had the greatest impact on farmer behavior. We recommend that researchers test research findings in practice, calculate cost-benefits of implementation, and transfer knowledge through various sources. This study showed that structural equation modeling is a valuable tool to understand farmer behavior regarding specific and entrenched animal welfare issues.
    • The translation of animal welfare research into practice: The case of mixing aggression between pigs

      Peden, Rachel S.E.; Turner, Simon; Boyle, Laura; Camerlink, Irene; Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) (Elsevier, 2018-03-10)
      Aggression between unfamiliar pigs at mixing is a major animal welfare problem in commercial farming. It has been studied since the 1970s and remains an important topic in animal welfare research. Methods to reduce pig aggression at mixing have been reviewed previously, but there has been little translation of the advocated techniques and building designs into practice. As a result, the problem persists on many commercial units. A similar situation exists for many other animal welfare issues. This article takes a new approach in not only reviewing the recent scientific literature, but also reviewing the evidence of uptake in industry. Firstly, the current state of aggression mitigation research is reviewed; including the most successful recent developments in breeding against aggression, early life socialisation, the use of pheromones and nutrition. Secondly, information is extracted from both peer reviewed and industry literature to establish the extent to which these strategies have been transferred from research to practice. Finally, we discuss why in spite of the amount of research on reducing aggression at mixing the problem has not reduced in intensive farming systems. The limited uptake in practice appears to be due to low prioritisation of the problem, the practicalities of implementation, lack of information on cost-effectiveness and ineffective communication of research to the farming community. To bridge this gap, industry must be involved in the design of practical solutions and the cost-effectiveness of these must be quantified. This approach should also be considered for other animal welfare issues under investigation. We recommend a better alignment between research questions and industry interests to increase the success of research efforts to improve animal welfare in practice.