Why is it measured?
Rooting is a deeply ingrained behaviour in pigs that has not been altered by domestication and is something that given the opportunity they will spend a large amount of time doing. Manipulation and exploration of suitable enrichment material with the mouth and snout provides a positive indicator that a pig’s behavioural needs are being met. Conversely, the manipulation of other objects, including other pigs, pen fittings and muck suggests a motivation to root, but a lack of available desirable substrates. The failure to provide sufficient quantities of a suitable manipulable material can increase the risk of tail biting, ear biting and aggression.
The reasons for stone chewing are not fully understood. It can suggest hunger or restricted access to suitable manipulable material, although sows may chew on stones even when straw and other substrates are provided.
How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure
|Enrichment use (dry sows and finishing pigs) Pen measure
Observation: Observe and record the oral behaviour of standing and sitting pigs in the pen (ignore lying pigs). Assess quickly to avoid double counting pigs already assessed.
Record, the number of standing and sitting pigs:
1. Using enrichment =
|Investigating a suitable manipulable substrate or object provided for enrichment
Include if snout/mouth is manipulating straw, hay, wood(chip), sawdust, mushroom compost, peat (or other material that enables proper investigation and manipulation)
OR in contact with an object/toy such as a hanging object or ball.
Only include if these objects/substrates have been provided by the producer as enrichment.
In outdoor systems, include manipulation of turf or clean areas of ground (i.e. not contaminated with manure).
|2. Manipulating other =
||No. pigs manipulating other pigs, pen equipment / floor / muck
Include if the snout/mouth is in contact with any part of another pig.
Include if the snout/mouth is in contact with muck or the floor, fixtures or fittings of the pen. Pay attention at feeders or drinkers to discriminate between manipulation of pen furniture and eating/drinking.
In outdoor systems, include rooting in dunging area or manipulation of areas of ground contaminated with manure.
3. Stone chewing =
|Manipulating a stone or stones with the snout or mouth – often audible.