The Value of Environmental Enrichments to Gestating Sows

  • Monica Elmore (Purdue University)
  • Joe Garner (Purdue University)
  • Brian Richert (Purdue University)
  • Don Lay (United States Department of Agriculture)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Richard Kirkden (University of Cambridge)
  • Ed Pajor (University of Calgary)


Housing swine in unstimulating environments can lead to increases in abnormal and harmful social behavior, stress and impaired immune function. Environmental enrichments can alleviate the negative impacts of unstimulating housing and can improve sow welfare. In a series of studies, we asked sows which enrichments they found most valuable. Behavior and motivation measures revealed that sows valued access to an enriched group pen, though sow social status impacted enrichment use. Rubber mats were preferred and shared in a group pen, though were not as highly valued by individual sows. Stall-housed sows valued compost in a trough and straw in a rack, though showed little interest in a hanging cotton rope. The addition of enrichments, which sows find valuable, to unstimulating environments should be considered as a method to improve sow welfare.

Keywords: ASL R2636

How to Cite:

Elmore, M., Garner, J., Richert, B., Lay, D., Johnson, A. K., Kirkden, R. & Pajor, E., (2011) “The Value of Environmental Enrichments to Gestating Sows”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-718

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Published on
01 Jan 2011
Peer Reviewed