Why is it measured?
Rooting is a deeply ingrained behaviour which pigs are highly motivated to perform. To prevent outdoor sows and boars from causing damage to the ground by rooting and digging with their snouts, they are sometimes rose ringed. Insertion of the nose ring and the associated handling can cause pain and stress. The nose ring itself is designed to cause discomfort when the animal roots and this, together with the reduction in the ability to perform a normal behaviour, is a welfare concern.
Providing pigs with a ‘sacrificial’ area of paddock with root crops added can minimise damage by directing the behaviour to a specific area. Nose ringing is prohibited by the Soil Association and permitted only in exceptional circumstances & with written permission by the RSPCA welfare standards where there is evidence of welfare issues resulting if ringing is not performed. The RSPCA standards contain additional provisions to minimise the negative impact of ringing such as only allowing one ring to be inserted and only animals of 100kg weight to be ringed.
How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure
| Nose ringing (dry sows) Pen measure
| Observation: Observe and record if the animals are nose ringed or not.