Krugmann, K. L., Mieloch, F. J., Krieter, J. 2021. Can tail and ear postures be suitable to capture the affective state of growing pigs? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 24(4), 411-423.
The present study examined whether tail and ear postures in fattening pigs (n = 228) housed in different environments could be suitable for assessing their affective state. In doing so, it investigated the appearance of curled-up, hanging, raised, tucked-under or wagging tails, respectively, ears directed forward, backward, mixed, and laterally. The environments included a barren and two enriched habitats that offered straw-bedded pens and soil-based rooting areas for the pigs. The tail and ear postures were analyzed using the scan sampling method. At the end of fattening, the pigs in the barren environment showed significantly fewer curled-up tails than those in the enriched environment. The barren-housed pigs showed also more raised, respectively, wagging tails than the enriched-housed pigs. Particularly at the end of fattening, there were no differences concerning the ears directed forward between the two environments and significantly fewer ears directed laterally were observed in the barren than in the enriched environment. Primarily, the curled-up tails could be suitable for indicating the affective state of the fattening pigs whereas the other tail, respectively, ear postures seemed to be less suitable to represent their affective state.