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

The effect of environmental enrichment on the immune response, disease resilience and welfare in pigs

Research Team:

  • Msc student: Madelena Pedersen-Macnab
  • Supervisor: Dr. Yolande Seddon
  • Project Members: Graham Plastow Ph.D., University of Alberta; Michael Dyck Ph.D., University of Alberta; John Harding DVM, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan; Frédéric Fortin, Centre de développement du porc du Québec.



Project Timeline:

  • 2018-2021

Funding Agency:


Disease outbreaks can cause major economic losses and compromise animal welfare. Pigs raised in enriched, bedded environments have shown to recover faster from disease and have a lower chance to get sick. It is unclear if point-source enrichments (objects that are generally limited in size and restricted to a certain area of the pen) in fully-slatted housing can have a similar effect.

Project Objectives:

Determine whether pigs reared with a rotation of point-source enrichments differ in immune response, behaviour and productivity when exposed to a natural disease challenge compared to pigs reared in barren environments.

Value of this research:

The health and welfare of livestock is important for responsible humane rearing of animals and efficient pork production. Environmental enrichment supports natural and species-specific behaviours and is a requirement in the Pig Code of Practice. This project will provide information on whether and how enrichment routines in fully-slatted systems can boost swine welfare and disease resilience, whilst also meeting Code of Practice requirements.

Links to results:

Results available in Madelena Pedersen-Macnab’s MSc thesis.