Pell, C., Armellino, K., Williams, A. et al. 2010. Swine enrichment techniques that increase efficiency and promote animal welfare in the laboratory environment. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 716 (Abstract #P109).
Obtaining accurate body weights for swine is important for calculating anesthetic drug dosages as well as an indicator used for tracking overall health. Scales used for acquiring such weights require that the pigs stand still in order to get an accurate and consistent reading. This process can be time consuming and sometimes stressful for the animals and technicians. Technicians commonly use treat enrichment in order to help pill swine with oral medications. We found that we could also use a pig’s favorite treat to assist with the process of weighing. Technicians give daily treats to acclimating pigs to determine their preference. The treat is then incorporated into the weighing process by using repetitive behaviors. After a couple of weeks of using this technique, we found that we could obtain accurate weights because the animals would stand still. This approach decreased the amount of technician time needed for weighing by 50% because the process then required only one technician instead of the usual 2 technicians to complete the task. These steps have also now been used successfully in other technical tasks involving swine such as the use of ultrasound in pregnant gilts as well as in moving pigs to different locations within the facility.