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Research Into Value of Play has Far Reaching Implications

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is expected to change how pork producers view the value of play. Research conducted through the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare Research Program, highlighted earlier this month as part of a forum held in conjunction with the 2024 Banff Pork Seminar, shows grower finisher pigs exposed to play display less aggression, recover quicker when exposed to disease and demonstrate higher average daily gain, than those not exposed to play.

Karolina Steinerova, a PhD student with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says this work has multiple implications.

Quote-Karolina Steinerova-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

Because our results are showing that play is positive for the pigs, this can be added as an animal-based measure in the code of practice as an animal welfare indicator of positive emotions, which is currently lacking in the code of practice.The code of practice is due for renewal so this could be one thing to consider for addition.

Also, the significance of disease findings, that promotion of play and increasing positive welfare in pig production is very positive for the public.It supports sustainability of intensive systems and also improves public trust.

This project is targeting producers.We would really like them embrace the value of positive welfare through the promotion of play and also try to understand that it can be beneficial to promote positive welfare on farms.

We also want to incorporate this into animal care assessment programs and add it to pork quality assurance.This work can also open doors for international markets demanding higher welfare or also create opportunities for niche markets.

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