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Use of different rooting materials to improve hygiene and to lower ammonia emission within the outdoor concrete area in organic growing finishing pig production

Olsson, Anne-Charlotte; Botermans, Jos; Andersson, Mats; Jeppsson, Knut-Hakan; Bergsten, Christer


In organic pig production, pigs are often provided with concrete areas outdoors. These outdoor areas are frequently used for urination and defecation by the pigs, which results in high nitrogen emissions. This is inconsistent with the goal of organic farming to minimise the environmental impact of agricultural production. Introduction of a well-designed rooting yard with an optimal rooting material could possibly be a way to improve the conditions in the outdoor area. In an earlier study, we tested different designs of rooting yards. In the present study, we compared outdoor areas without enrichment (Reference, R) with outdoor areas with rooting yards filled with one of three different kinds of rooting material: wood shavings (W), peat (P) or peat + a small amount of pelleted feed (PF).In total, three batches (batch 1: Dec-April (winter/spring); batch 2: May-Sept (summer); batch 3: Oct Jan (autumn/winter), in a research facility with eight pens of 16 pigs each, were studied. Data on performance and activity, hygiene and ammonia emission in the outdoor area were used for the evaluation.No significant differences in performance were seen between treatments. The pigs found the rooting yards with rooting material outdoors attractive and pigs with rooting material outdoors tended to be outdoors more often than pigs in the reference pen. However, these differences were generally not significant, due to large variations. Hygiene outdoors was significantly better in the pens with rooting yards and rooting material than in the reference pen, but there were no significant differences depending on whether the rooting yards were filled with wood shavings, peat or peat with feed pellets. However, while the visual hygiene evaluations showed positive results for all rooting materials tested, the ammonia measurements did not show matching results. Instead, the ammonia emission from the outdoor area was higher in pens with wood shavings in the rooting yards than in the reference pen. Thus introduction of a rooting yard with rooting material in the outdoor area in organic pig production can have positive results in terms of improved hygiene and reduced ammonia emission if the rooting material consists of peat. Addition of small amounts of feed pellets in the peat, to make the rooting material more attractive to the pigs, did not give any great positive effect. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Organic pigs; Rooting yard; Behaviour; Performance; Hygiene; Ammonia emission

Publicerad i

Livestock Science
2016, Volym: 191, sidor: 64-71