Misra, S., Bokkers, E., Upton, J. et al. 2021. Effect of environmental enrichment and group size on the water use and waste in grower-finisher pigs. Scientific Reports 11(1), 16380.
The grower-finisher stage accounts for 64% of the total on-farm herd water use. Part of this is consumed by the pigs, but a part is also wasted. Drinking water usage and wastage is affected by different factors. We investigated how different group sizes and different levels of enrichment affect water usage (ingested plus wasted), water wastage, behavior and performance in grower-finisher pigs. Pigs (n = 672), 11 weeks of age (77 ± 2 days) were used for the experiment. The effect of group size: SMALL (12 pigs), MEDIUM (24 pigs), and LARGE (48 pigs) was assessed across two levels of enrichment (LOW—wooden post, hanging rubber toy, HIGH—Same as LOW + fresh grass). There was no effect of group size on water use or wastage. Pigs with HIGH enrichment (10.4 ± 0.4 L/pig/day) used less water than LOW enrichment (11.0 ± 0.4 L/pig/day; p < 0.001). The water wastage/drinker/hour was lower in pens with HIGH enrichment than LOW (p = 0.003). The drinking bout number (p = 0.037) and total occupancy/hour (p = 0.048) was also higher for pens with LOW than HIGH enrichment. Aggressive and harmful behaviour were performed less in LARGE groups and pens with HIGH enrichment. Thus, HIGH enrichment allowance reduced water usage and wastage so may have benefits for the environment, as well as animal welfare.