NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
(306) 966-7151
WCVM, UofS, 52 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, SK

Stimulating play behaviour in piglets pre-weaning: Effects on transition to weaning and post-weaning social behaviour

Research Team:

  • BSc Students: Carmen Cole, Keara Leong Machielse, and Victoria Windrem
  • Supervisor: Dr. Yolande Seddon
  • Project Members: Dr. Jennifer Brown – Prairie Swine Centre

Funding Agency:

Project Timeline:

  • April 2020 – December 2021


Play behaviour is naturally expressed in young animals and acts as a mechanism for pigs to learn necessary social skills and may enhance stress resilience. The pre-weaning environment will influence the amount of play that is expressed. Stimulating play within the intensive production environment using various enrichments during early life may reduce stress levels during novel situations, and the incidence and duration of fighting and aggressive encounters when pigs are faced with new social partners later in life.

Project Objectives:

  • Determine how specific environmental manipulations pre-weaning influence the levels of play expressed by pigs.
  • Determine how the pre-weaning rearing environment and type and quantity of play expressed influences:
    • the welfare and performance of pigs around weaning.
    • the social skill development of pigs post-weaning, as determined by behaviour in a controlled social contest test.
    • the level of aggression in weaned pigs when mixed with unfamiliar pigs.

Value of this research:

By researching how play behaviour can be promoted and the impacts of play on piglet development, we can determine ways to improve pig welfare and enhance beneficial production traits throughout the production chain. Implementing management to enhance swine welfare will contribute to production practices that align with consumer values to have pigs reared with their needs as a species in mind.

What we discovered:

Check back soon for research results.