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 the growing and finishing pig: Effects on indicators of positive welfare and affective state

Research Team:

  • PhD Student: Karolína Steinerová
  • Supervisor: Dr. Yolande Seddon
  • Project Members: Jennifer Brown – Prairie Swine Centre, Heather Wilson – VIDO (Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization)

Funding Agency:

Project Timeline:

  • May 2021 – May 2024


Research focusing on play in older pigs is limited. If the expression of play is positively rewarding for pigs and supports emotional well-being, it could support stress resilience and fitness. Providing opportunities for the expression of play throughout the production chain could support good animal welfare and beneficial production traits throughout the life of the pig. Identifying methods to effectively stimulate play behaviour in growing pigs within the intensive production environment, as well as understanding the physiological benefits that may result, will expand our current understanding of swine welfare and how we can improve it in intensive swine production.

Project Objectives:

  • Identify ways to effectively promote play in growing pigs between 10 and 22 weeks of age in the commercial production environment.
  • Determine if opportunities for play increase indicators of positive welfare as determined through behavioural and physiological measures of positive emotional well-being and stress.

Value of this research:

In measuring the biological response to play, we can determine if there are benefits of promotion of play for the pig as a mood enhancer, stress reducer and/or stimulant. This work contributes knowledge for the development of pig friendly husbandry and animal care considering for provision of positive experiences, which is a crucial concept to support improved welfare for intensively farmed pigs.

What we discovered:

Check back soon for research results.