A preliminary study of the impact of stocking density on the behaviour of group housed Göttingen Minipigs
In welfare discussions the space available for each animal has been in focus for many years. It is, however, difficult to carry out experiments, which end up setting precise data for minimum space. Experimental setups have to some extent investigated the space demands for rodents, guinea pigs and rabbits (Eveleigh, 1988; Stauffacher, 1992; White et al., 1989), while only little work has been done on minipigs. Some studies have been carried out on farm pigs to show the minimum welfare-acceptable space for a pig at fifteen kg, but data differ. Beattie et al. (1996) found the optimal floor area to be 0.5 m2 per pig, whereas Pearce & Paterson (1993) only found it to be 0.18 m2 per pig. As minipigs in general are more active than farm pigs (Bollen et al., 1998), they may need more space than farm pigs at the same size.
The aim of the present study was to find a method to evaluate the minimum welfare-acceptable floor space required for each group housed pig. Behavioural studies are used to discuss whether pigs’s welfare and ability to perform a natural behavioural repertoire are reduced under certain housing conditions.