Use of biologically relevant enrichment to improve nursery-aged pig weaning transition

  • Emiline Sundman (Iowa State University)
  • Alexandria Geary (Iowa State University)
  • Nicholas K. Gabler (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Locke A. Karriker (Iowa State University)
  • Suzanne T. Millman (Iowa State University)


The objective of this study was to determine if a biologically relevant environmental enrichment (EE) biscuit-maintained novelty and affected nursery pig performance over the first seven days. Thirty mixed sex piglets, aged 19-24 days, were allocated to 3 pens. Each pen received 2 ropes with 2 biscuits per rope (defined as the EE) at the feeder for the first 7 days after weaning. Each pen was randomly allocated 1 of 3 treatments: positive control (POS, plain biscuits), maternal pheromone (MP, biscuits dipped in an oil-based sow maternal pheromone), and jam (JAM, biscuits dipped in strawberry jam). Biscuits were replaced daily. Descriptive data collected included EE interactions, average daily gain, average daily feed intake, and fecal scores. EE interactions were evaluated in the 1st and 12th hour after daily EE replacement using instantaneous scan sampling at 10 second intervals. Average EE interaction frequency across the 1st hour was POS 372 ± 165, JAM 291 ± 96, MP 314 ± 223. Interaction frequency was consistently higher during the 1st hour compared to the 12th hour after EE replacement. ADG and ADFI were highest for pigs in the POS treatments (ADG 0.234, kg/d, ADFI 0.20 ± 0.13 kg/d) and lowest for pigs in the JAM treatment (ADG 0.186 kg/d, ADFI 0.16 ± 0.09 kg/d). In conclusion, nursery pigs showed high levels of interaction with the environmental enrichment over the entire week, and POS treatment was the most successful in enticing pigs to interact with the EE with potential impacts on subsequent performance.

Keywords: Enrichment, Biscuit, Swine, Nursery

How to Cite:

Sundman, E., Geary, A., Gabler, N. K., Stalder, K. J., Johnson, A. K., Karriker, L. A. & Millman, S. T., (2023) “Use of biologically relevant enrichment to improve nursery-aged pig weaning transition”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 19(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.14476



Published on
07 Mar 2023
Peer Reviewed