Social Housing of Miniature Swine

Social Housing of Miniature Swine


I think it’s really good topic to discuss
with everyone we’ve kind of run into it a little bit more over the years
especially being a vendor people are constantly calling wanting to know what to
do with their pigs when they need to socially house them. I guess I want to
start off with a couple disclaimers this is not gonna be as good as the last two
presentations and I’m also not here trying to do a sales pitch you know
we’ve put a lot of time and effort into our behavior system and we’ve always had
to social housing animals we have from the start all of our animals or group
house and there’s some tricks and things that you can do to try and make it
easier at your institutions and that’s what we aim to do for our clients and
hopefully I can give some suggestions here today to help you ease the
transition in your facilities. So we’ll start off a little bit with the origin
of swine some of their natural behavior, some of the natural versus the
laboratory behavior that you’ll see in them, their psychology cognition, their
social communication and some abnormal behaviors that you might see. A
lot of times you can correct those behaviors with behavioral conditioning
that way you know you start you stop bad habits before they start. Swine are
not native to the American continent the Polynesian immigrants brought the first
domestics to Hawaii and approximately a AD 750 and swine have always been viewed
as an agricultural animal everyone’s raised him for me it wasn’t until
probably the early 40s and 50s were smaller breeds of feral swine were being
used for research in facilities where they didn’t have a lot of room and they
noticed that the domestic pigs were growing faster. So there’s been several
breeds that have been purpose bred I guess for the for the purpose of
research for facilities matter of fact the Yucatan started out
in the US with just 25 brought to the University of Colorado and then they
kind of propagated from there. The wild boar is
the ancestor of all the domestic breeds of swine, Sus scrofa their scientific
genius. They’re not as gregarious in the wild as you see in commercial farms. The
sows tend to stay together but the boars are solitary they kind of roam by
themselves in a commercial setting you really don’t see that a lot because
commercial farms don’t have a lot of intact boards on the research side
though toxicology studies demand that you have intact animals split gender for
all of your study needs so you have to try to figure out how to group those
animals. A lot of the purebred pigs Landrace, Yorkshires, Hampshires some of those
genes were introduced in the miniature breeds way back whether it was for color
or to get along the domestic side a little more most of that’s been bred out
of them now most of the miniature pigs started off from feral crosses
especially the Sinclair and the Hanford which were originally Hormels
they’re just across the four feral breeds of pigs they just happen to stay smaller.
Those in the Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are some of the early lines that you
would see. You can see the difference in their phenotype obviously when they
domesticated pigs the whole purpose was for weight gain so they lost a lot
of the traits that their wild ancestors did, their skull shaped, their
phenotype in general is just a lot different and actually for a lot of
internal studies the feral pigs are a little bit better for certain things
they have a longer jaw structure for dental implants, and they they just don’t
grow as fast so it’s a lot nicer, they’re bullet shaped that way they can move
through the underbrush when they were in the wild, their speed and agility for
short distance. Pigs are a natural prey animal so they’re constantly on the
lookout for any predator which kind of correlates into the
sometimes if you noticed if you don’t get an animal that’s very well
socialized they will try to run from you or run past you if any of you have ever
worked with pigs. Pigs are omnivorous we talked about gregariousness
earlier they like to be in large groups and as I said we raised all of our
animals in large groups from the time they’re 6 months old on up sometimes
there’s 20 or 30 in one pen and they get along just fine and we realize that most
research facilities don’t have that type of space. So what happens when they get
to your facility? I urge a lot of you to contact your
vendors or work closely with your vendors because this isn’t all on you to
social house these animals. If you need them in groups of two or three, let your
vendor know and that can be done prior. You talked about the rabbits earlier, we
can select animals from a pan of 20 and you may get you know eight animals that
were in the same pen that we could double house and they’ll be fine once
you receive them. It’s just I think more communication with your vendors on what
you need will be really helpful and then you also need to talk to your study
directors more – I think in designing the protocols a lot of the study
directors don’t realize what the client or the the client may need something and
then the study director says yeah we can do this well once you talk to your
vendor and they’re like well no we can’t have four pigs per pen but we can do
groups of two so there has to be a clear line of communication between everyone
on what the whole purpose is. Some of the natural behavior pigs like to root. How
many of you here have had pigs in your facilities? How many have had your
facilities destroyed by pigs? They will tear up an anvil and sandbox
I’ve heard a lot of people say and it’s just because they get bored so you have
to make sure you provide plenty of enrichment so they can do those natural
behaviors that have come to them. We make a lot of rooting boxes from different
material. If they find anything loose in their pen
though, they’re gonna play with it and they’ll just play with it and play with
it play with it until it either comes off or something falls over and that’s
just what they do naturally that’s how they get their food. So the regulatory
guidelines for laboratory swine The Guide says housing space or enclosures
should account for animal social needs, social animals should be housed in
stable pairs or larger groups of compatible individuals. The question that
I get a lot from people is what do you consider compatible individuals? Well if
we’re talking to you and we house them prior to shipping in a group of two,
we’ve already defined that those animals are compatible. Now if you tell us after
the fact, then we may have so we can give you the original the original pen
housing some groups, but from the time that you separate that animal out of
that pen, say you ship it in an individual carrier to your facility,
they’ve already lost the compatibility and just over that short trip that they
may have had and well they won’t be as aggressive towards each other once they
get there but they’re still going to be a little bit of a scuffle and most times
that can’t be avoided. Pigs have a very strong hierarchical
structure and once that’s disrupted they have to figure out how to get that back
in balance whether it’s two pigs whether it’s eight pigs then whether it’s pen
writing, biting nibbling on the ears, whatever it’s going to be they have to
re-establish that structure but we can minimize that by putting them in groups
prior to shipment or doing other things once they get to your facility that will
overshadow their fears and then you can work with them on a normal basis and try
and reintroduce them. The need for social housing should be reviewed on a regular
basis by the IACUC and the veterinarian. Your IACUC should have
your social housing statement written at your facility. A lot of people aren’t
used to how pigs react so if a veterinarian sees a scratch on the pigs
they automatically say they’re incompatible, that’s not always the case,
you have to find that fine line of the these scratches and abrasions that
you’re going to be okay with that are treatable that aren’t going to affect
your study and that don’t cause any stress or harm to the animals. Pigs,
especially that you contain since they don’t have any hair to protect them, they
they get scratched up pretty easily and it’s just part of their normal life. Now
if it’s for a dermal study like we were discussing earlier with the rabbits and
you don’t see it until after you’ve shaved them that’s another issue
altogether but if it’s something that you can treat while they’re in
acclimation you have perfect skin at time of dosing then there shouldn’t be
any issue rehousing those animals. The biological basis for this all starts in
the embryo, pigs are in competition with each other from the time they’re
conceived and it first starts even more when they’re born so when the piglets
born they have to fight for that hierarchical structure to get the best
milk provided from the sow so within the first couple hours you’ll see piglets
just box we call it boxing and they will fight each other until that order is
established and they maintain that order throughout their whole life cycle unless
you reintroduce pigs or one pig maybe gets larger and decides that it needs to
be the Alpha in the pen. Typically, the dominant pigs will eat faster so if
you’ve got pair housed animals in your facility and you notice one is getting
larger you might want to make sure they have enough feed bowls in their pens
because the other ones obviously eating before the other one can. Just normal
behaviors of pigs, they’re scavengers, they’re foragers, they move around and
look for whatever they can find and you’ll notice that in their setting
whenever you feed the pigs they’ll eat a little bit and then they’ll kind of move
back to the corner, they really do it with water, they they take three or four
bites of feed and then they run to the water, and that’s just they’re constantly
on the move and constantly on the lookout. Abnormal behaviors that you
might see our conflicts between the animals, there may be a genetic
abnormality that’s causing them to be more
aggressive then domestic pigs are because there are a lot of feral crosses
in these early early lineages. So we’ve also looked at the Siberian Fox theory
and years ago, if also tried to introduce behavior into our breeding scheme and
it’s just a simple one-two-three score. If they approach you,
they don’t approach you, or if they’re they’re wary of you, and we’ve started
selecting in our breeders based on a lot of that to try and get more docile
animals that you guys as the end users can socialize or train for procedures or
whatever you need to do and that they’re socially compatible with each other. So
in the in the wild you’ll see a lot of rooting behavior, food seeking, they like
to dig holes in the mud, like I said in the laboratory you’ll see gates and
and cage doors lifted off the hinges, all sorts of banging around, damage to the
floors and the cage walls. The social order, once you switch them, if you’re
doing a neonatal study, and you try and move some pigs around you they’ll have
to re-establish that dominance again after weaning, usually if you regroup the
animals the subordinates are attacked, when they’re reintroduced there’s not
much you can do except separate them. Usually it’s short-lived though, so
that’s the good news, and rarely and younger animals and I
would say under six to eight months is what we would call younger are you gonna
get a lot of actual physical damage. It’s the older intact males that you usually
have to worry about or the older sows. When you’re designing your your
facilities, make sure if you are going to be a swine facility that you design your
pens and gates that it’s not going to damage the animal or your facility and
make sure you keep that social housing in mind. If you’re going to renovate your
animal space and you know that all these these species are gonna have to be group
housed now keep that in consideration and if you’ve got room maybe to make
your hallways smaller so that the animal area is bigger
things like that really helped the animals get away from each other and
give them that little extra space that they need. Two distractions, like I said,
pigs get bored easily especially when they’re by themselves we always have
chains or some sort of enrichment in the pens along with the human interaction
that you give them on a daily basis. Usually the puberty is three to four
months old and in miniature swine anyway and then four to five months old we say
they’re sexually mature females is a little bit earlier you don’t get as much
aggressiveness with them. The thing about miniature swine is with the feral
tendencies is in the intact males they develop an armor, which I’ve never seen
in a domestic pig, but an intact male will have probably a six to eight inch
thick callus that starts at his shoulder and runs all the way back to his ribs
and that’s to protect their vital organs in the wild when they fight because
that’s naturally what the males will do. So if once you start getting in tact
males that age you have to be really careful if you’re gonna try and
introduce them and I don’t recommend it over the age of ten months old unless
that they were they were litter mates or pen mates prior to that. You also have to
be careful with sexually mature males jumping over pens, females will do it as
well and they’ll just hop from pen to pen trying to find an intact female and
you may get an inadvertent fight or an inadvertent housing issue that
you didn’t want. Pigs have excellent memories they remember where they got
their food in the wild when they are scavenging they they have their hotspots
where they have to go back and forth all the time and they just have a really
good memory and they have a really good ability to learn things. I think it would
be interesting to see the pig on the chart up there with the dogs because I
think that somewhere along the line they have the the better cognition than any
of the other species as well. They also learn avoidance really well so
if there’s a negative stimulus in the area they’re going to avoid that at all
costs so you have to counter that with positive reinforcement no matter what
you do. Their sight is not as good as their smell, but it does does help they’re
hearing this really well high and low frequencies, they respond well to human
voice and we’ve actually found in some of our fairing houses that you have a
lower pre weaning mortality if you play a classical music versus a lot of the
other sound that’s around. There studies that have been done in dairy cattle as
well that show increased milk production but I believe the the music of choice
there was classic rock it actually showed more milk production than
classical so. Pigs are very tactile as well, they respond to touch pressure,
they’re very thermo receptive. If you see a lot of fighting in a pen of pigs, you
want to make sure you spread out their feeding areas because they they produce
a lot of heat especially when they’re eating and that little bit of agitation
you know it’s like all of us being on a crowded bus somebody’s gonna get angry
eventually and then that’s when they start fighting over resources. They
always compete for fresh water. Their food selection is kind of varying they
like sweet things, they like some things that are bitter. I’m sure everyone has
tried their different treats at their facilities, we did a test of 45 different
things just to see which ones they liked and it was different between every breed
but they all really liked Fig Newtons I don’t know if anyone’s tried that but it
makes a good enrichment. So they have a very unique, I don’t know if anyone’s
ever I’m sure most of the vets here have cut down the turbinates of a pig, and and
seen how complex their nasal system is, their sinuses continue up almost take up
more of their brain space than the rest and their VNO actually has two openings
in the roof of their mouth. So we thought, several years ago, that maybe we could
keep pigs from fighting if we block that VNO and it was semi successful we
took a group of eight animals and actually plugged the VNO and then
kept them separate for three weeks and then we reintroduced them and it seemed
to work for a while but you can’t really block the whole VNO it’s too complex
of a cavern to do without something very invasive when they’re younger so that’s
something that we’re still looking at and hopefully we can publish some data
on later. Abnormal behaviors usually when you’re in the research facility
you’ll see the regular stereotypic things the pigs will circle in their pen
or they’ll chew incessantly on things it’s just mainly because they’re bored
they do a lot of tongue play and that’s what what they do if they don’t have
anything else to do it’s not that it’s necessarily abnormal if they were in a
group setting they would probably just be doing it to each other
instead of chewing on the pen but they’re not violent about it if they’re
in a in a group where they’ve been raised that way and they actually I
don’t want to say that they groom each other but pigs will chew on each other
and they nudge each other and and they all pile up in a pan like one big happy
family. Usually these abnormal behaviors are
caused by unsafe events unpredictable events there’s nothing that pigs seem to
respond worse to than something they can’t predict the outcome of from giving
shots to dosing to anything that they’re not sure about
they will react negatively until you show them that there’s a positive side
to it and that’s that’s the same for reintroduction if you take strange
animals and put them together they’re gonna see that as a negative stimulus
and until you show that there’s a positive side to it
you’re gonna have trouble trying to get those group house. That’s why we always
time and time again we ask when someone calls you know what’s gonna be your
study? are you gonna group house them? do you need them group housed? and then we
can go from there but depending on your study, where I said earlier the the study
directors have to talk to the IACUC and the veterinarian and the vendor, there
are some tox studies where everybody needs to be single housed If you had a
dermal dose and your collecting urine or whatever you can’t have five pigs in a
pen, but if you’re doing let’s say an IV dose and you’re just worried about the
the placement of a port or something like that
those animals could probably be regrouped later without any damage
because it’s not going to cause a lot of issue you just have to make sure that
post surgically or post surgery you separate them for a while until the
suture line is healed. That being said, we’ve also put we’ve group house syntax
studies or I’ve talked to clients that have group house them and the absorption
rate wasn’t known for oral ingestion and they had really high spikes in their t k
levels and come to find out the pigs were licking it off of each other and
they weren’t getting the dermal absorption but it was really skewing the
results from their their t k so you have to make sure that the ends are what you
need for when you start social housing these animals. There’s a picture of one
of our standard pens in the production setting. They love to chew on the chains,
they chew on the feeders – but the chains are their favorite toy. The
intensity of regrouping fight increases with age and is usually gender dependent.
The worst is intact males particularly after puberty like I said before I
wouldn’t regroup intact males that are 10 to 12 months old they’re also gonna
have tusks along with that armor and they just have more testosterone and
more of a drive to be the alpha you know typically in the wild they would be out
on their own find a herd of sows that this is gonna
be their’s. Castrated males have minimum – no regrouping injuries we found not even
as much as females. Females are a little more tolerant but they still may have
some injuries mostly you’re gonna see scratches around the neck and the ears
or on the dorsum from pen riding. It’s all gonna vary varies on the individual,
they’re just like people each one is different. As we talked about before if
you if you can always house the pigs and their original pens, that’s where your
vendor comes into play, that may be a little harder with rabbits and some of
the smaller animals but large animals you can you can talk to your suppliers
and tell them that you need them or you have to have the locations and they can
give you that information. Sometimes this aggression when they are
single housed can be turned towards the handlers, sometimes head-butting of the
handler, that people see as play, is actually an aggression by an intact
animal and you can start bad habits nuzzling or chewing on the handlers
boots or clothes especially when you’re trying to dermal dose an animal or
you’re getting anything out of the pen they associate that with you and now
that becomes a bad habit so anytime anyone tries to get in that pen they’re
gonna start chewing on you that’s not always the best thing for a lot of
facilities. Mini pigs are actually slight more slightly more active than domestics
and I think that’s because they’ve got more room in their pens to move around
they have a slower metabolism so they just kind of lay around spend most of
their time eating and drinking and then the rest of us sleeping. It takes less
than four weeks normally if you take an unsocialized animal to get them
acclimated to your laboratory setting or to your technicians
they’re they’re really fast at picking up on where their resources are coming
from and being rewarded for that and they react very positively. These are the
taller partitions we’re talked about this is the typical you know maybe a
research housing that you might see. Socialization which is a must in in all
facilities it’s minimally time-consuming you can train the animals to practice
the procedures they like the treats it’s the best motivator a lot of pigs really
actually have a sweet tooth depending on your protocols that may be good or bad
if you get a pig all sugared up there just like a three-year-old
so eventually they’ll crash but you can also buy certified treats from the
different vendors vegetables, fruit, other things like that work really well I know
a lot of our pigs we provide for diabetic clients feed low glycemic
treats and they work throughout really well too. The important thing is whatever
you’re doing you give the treat last or the reward you have to make them work
for it. They enjoy you know chew toys and bedding change they’re durable toys that
they usually can’t get can’t get bored of. Social group is the best enrichment
that’s the best thing for them to do human interaction is I would say number
two on that list they’re kind of like a dog with regards to once you have them
trained to you coming in scratching their belly and patting them on the back
they love that more than a food treat. See all the little Yucatan’s piled there
with each other rather than playing with their toys they really find comfort in
being in that group setting. So preventing abnormal behavior we talked
about selective breeding a little bit earlier for behavior making sure
socialization habituation handling are all being taken care of at your
facilities and leadership training for your
technicians and the animals if you teach them that they have to work to provide
or they have to work to get their rewards that’s going to make them more
responsive in your your study protocols. The environment recognition by
frequently grouping of younger animals if you mix pigs is a different size
sometimes that helps as well although it doesn’t work with pigs like a dozen dogs
the larger animal isn’t necessarily always going to be the dominant one
there are some little feisty pigs that will just nah-nah-nah-nah like a little
ankle-biter. Exploratory behavior is self rewarding we talked about the rooting
boxes earlier if you do have to single house your animals you want to make sure
that you’re stimulating them mentally and giving them plenty environmental
enrichment and human interaction that it makes up for that con-specific
interaction. Exercise training and obedience, you can do agility training,
clicker training, we do a lot of behavior enhancement for our clients and just in
general to try and make our animals more docile but you can target train, you
can sling train there’s nothing really that I don’t think you can teach a pig
to do. Typically the abnormal things that you’ll see a pig bites to assert its
dominance over a handler or another animal if it bites it’s because it’s
making the fear the fear eliciting stimulus go away so they know that’s
gonna be a reward in itself so if you respond when that animal is aggressive
they instantly think oh okay well that’s how it makes it go away that’s how I
make everyone go away instead of giving them something positive to look forward
to so that’s how a lot of bad behavior gets started in the research setting. Avoidance behavior in general that’s what pigs were bred to do they’re meant
to survive so you have to try and work around that
and they know they pick up on the other animal skews too in a social setting if
there’s one pig in there that may be afraid of a caretaker or someone coming
to the front of the pen but you’ve got three other pigs coming up to the front
you’re gonna pick that pig up and he’s gonna become more social same way with
moving pigs I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried to herd pigs but if you get
one that stops at the door nobody else is going through that door now that
first one goes through and everybody will run right after it they really
follow the group setting. So you just have to try to be non confrontational
with them positive reinforcement behaviors work
the best you can also habituate them obviously if
sling training they kind of go hand in hand with the positive reinforcement
they respond well to classical and operate conditioning. Strategies to
reduce or prevent aggression so this is what I deal with a lot on a daily basis
really it’s clients wanting to regroup the animals say your studies ended and
you have for animals that are open what do you do with them now you’ve lost that
single housing exemption from your IACUC, you’ve moved them to an open
protocol, now you have to throw four strange pigs back together where does
that stop and a lot of that’s with your institution there may be maybe able to
exempt them based on incompatibility but until you try you’re not sure if it’s
gonna work or not so we’ve developed some things that you
can try and do to minimize that if you have the time and you have the manpower. Aggression that regrouping usually it’s it’s a lot of biting and pen
riding but pigs are quick they can afflict up 80 bites before the other one
turns away or gives up they’re hard-headed and usually it’s a fear
anxiety or they want to establish that hierarchy. We talked about the nursing and the teat
order earlier, that’s it they come out being aggressive and wanting to be
competitive so you have to overshadow that later in life and they’re really
possessive over their resources especially food or water spaces and
they’re constantly on the move being a forager so when they do get in groups
they like to groom each other or when they do fight they hit the same areas
that they would be grooming their flanks the back the belly to try and get those
subordinates to get away from their resource. This is just an older picture I
found of some common threatening body language usually you’ll see the pigs and
though they’ll put their necks up to each other and then they start what we
call chomping and they’re working that salivary glands up and getting their
pheromones spread out and once you start seeing that chomping behavior it’s time
to interject because it’s not gonna be very much longer before they start
chewing on each other or you if you try and get in the middle of it so. Common
threatening body language from that is usually because of invasion of
space, a direct approach, an erratic movement, if they notice something that
moves really fast out of the corner of their eye they’re going to get defensive
immediately or if someone else is trying to take their resources they’re really
resource guarders. Some of it may be hormonal we talked about that earlier
with the rabbits you’ll see a lot more pen riding in the females when they’re
in estrus or if you have a room of females and there’s an intact male in
there more boar exposure or bringing those females into heat and then you’ll
start getting pen riding issues that’ll last for three or four days and then
it’ll come back again in 21 days so. Some of it can be pain a deuced depend on if
it’s post surgery or if you’re doing daily injections
or just anything that’s uncomfortable or abnormal to the animal you’ll start to
get this aggression towards each other. We’d like to come up with some acronyms
for a lot of our clients so we like to use a anxiety to calm and there’s
different tools that you can use to cover up the olfactory, the visual, the
tactile, the auditory, you just want to make it safe and predictable when you
try and put these animals back together. We talked about the rooting boxes
earlier that’s something that we’ve introduced they don’t seem to fight over
it as much as a resource as it is something new and novel to them so if
you have new pigs that have never seen each other you put them together and
they kind of both play around in there for a while and they don’t really pay
much attention to each other because it’s something new. Here we have one of
our technicians this is how we do a lot of our social age socialization in a
group setting they still sit in the pen and play with the animals. Now these are
the groups I was talking about earlier they’re sometimes 15 to 20 animals what
we would do in if a client called we would select your animals to try and
select them out of the same pen that way we could ship them in the groups that
you requested. Enough time if enough time is allowed we would take animals from
separate pens and then put them together and then get them used to each other
prior to shipment. Some other things that we use are catheter tip syringes filled
with sucrose or sweet water sometimes they just like to chew on the end of the
syringe when you’re reintroducing them that kind of gives them something to
focus on rather than each other, mop heads on the end of the chains worked
really well they their one-time use obviously they’re not very sanitized.
But there’s a picture of the rooting box so we take a bunch of those
plastic barbells that the rabbits love so much pigs like to move them around in
there too and these two pigs here were single housed for probably 10 weeks this
is their first introduction they didn’t really notice each other until all the
food was gone and then that’s when we had to separate them again but you kind
of have to do it in stages like that if you’re gonna reintroduce naive animals
to each other it’s it’s kind of like a playdate or taking your kid to meet
somebody new you let them in there for a little while and then you separate them
and you just keep keep mediating that until they finally can play in the
sandbox together nicely. We also start early with these animals trying to
imprint that human interaction is nice and it’s gonna be positive for them so
we start with the sows and their litters we try to start mat training early. We do
a lot of target training for individual clients and that really helps when
you’re regrouping these animals too. If they perform on cue for you, you can set
each one on the side target train and they know that they’re gonna get
something positive out of it and it’s really quite easy to start reintroducing
them to each other that way. Sometimes when you’re regrouping several animals
at once it helps to kind of shock them if you turn the lights off in the room
immediately after you do it they have to kind of focus on their surroundings
rather than each other. There’s a little bit of cage mate size disparity but like
I said with pigs it it doesn’t matter a whole lot like it was I know a lot I
know a lot of people that would regroup dogs and they’d put a bigger one with a
smaller one on purpose and then they wouldn’t expect any fighting that
doesn’t work as well with pigs. And then there’s something that we’ve tried
called the calming hood and it’s worked pretty well we’ve developed this over
the last couple years so these are the two pigs that were in the they were in
the rooting box earlier so the pig on the left we noticed he was the aggressor
and the other one was more submissive and we thought well if they can’t
necessarily see each other but they can still smell and touch what’s that going
to do because we’ve kind of tried this before in slings, you take away the sight and they calm down a little bit and they’re just not
as anxious so I thought well we’ll try this with a reintroduction and it worked
pretty well actually and I have a video clip of that later
but some other things you can do we’ve also used thunder shirts on pigs, if you
know if you have one that’s really anxious, our sling wrap which actually
works a little bit better than just a normal sling it kind of it gives
pressure to the animal kind of like a thunder shirt would and you could still
manipulate them for you know port placement or whatever else you’re doing
in the sling. Lots of nesting and bedding stuff work too I know most facilities
now are all washed down so you probably don’t have a lot of ability for nesting
material but you can still put it in the routing boxes and you just have to make
sure it doesn’t end up in your sewer system.
So when we reintroduce these two we decided well let’s take the hood off of
the submissive one and just leave it on the aggressive one and see what happens
and there’s really interesting like I said you have to babysit the animals a
lot so we’ve got our caretaker in there with them but the positive interaction
that they’re getting just from the back scratching and the rubbing is enough to
make these guys just lay down and almost cuddle next to each other here in a
couple minutes. And after about a mmm I think it was
four or five days we were able to put these guys in a pen together after
this first instance we found that when we took the hood off the aggressive
animal he didn’t care for it much but as long as he couldn’t see the other guy
they just kind of laid down there next to each other so uh it definitely works
like I said it’s just time consuming but if you have the time to do it this is
one way that you can start regrouping them. Other things you can do we talked
about the classical conditioning and that’s done everyday in most every
facility I’ve seen you can roll the food barrel down the hallway you don’t even
have to walk in the room with it and everybody knows what’s happening. A lot
of these can be grouped together we’ve found into different categories of
things you can do we also found you can use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of a
lot of the olfactory smell on each other so if you give both pigs a bath it
reduces their aggression quite a bit towards each other and we’ve also used
Vicks or something strong like that and kind of rubbed on their nose and it it
breaks down that barrier right at first it lets them kind of see hey maybe this
guy’s not after my resources so we’re just gonna get along so there’s
different things you can try depending on your facility and a lot of
them work really well. Usually the pigs are always biting or running because
it’s a fear response so that’s one thing you have to make sure that you don’t
reinforce at your facilities when you’re regrouping these animals any kind of
fear response and it’s not going to be easy and I think that’s it.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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