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Nutrinfo, Pig

Can pig behaviour be used to predict the development of stomach ulcers?

Can pig behaviour be used to predict the development of stomach ulcers?
2023.04.05. | Agrofeed Nutrinfó

Research carried out by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast has found that stomach ulcers may cause changes in the way pigs rest, or may be the result of such changes. Therefore, changes in behaviour may allow an ulcer to be detected before more serious damage occurs. Also, pigs with stomach ulcers have been shown to be less prone to harmful behaviours such as tail biting. Stomach ulcers are an important pathological condition in pig farming. Research in several European countries suggests that approximately 20% of slaughtered pigs have mild ulcers, whilst another 10% have severe ulcers.

The researchers from the two institutions identified pigs with and without stomach ulcers at slaughter, and then compared their behaviour using video recordings taken in the two weeks prior to slaughter. The most obvious difference was the side they chose to rest on. Pigs with stomach ulcers (even mild ones) were much less likely to lie on their right side than those without ulcers (on average 12% of the time, as compared to 25% of the time for those without ulcers).

The research team also observed that pigs with stomach ulcers showed less harmful social behaviour than those without ulcers; tail biting occurred only a third as often as in pigs without ulcers, and ear biting half as often. Both ulcers and harmful social behaviour are increased by stress, and it is conceivable that some pigs respond to stress by adapting their behaviour, while others that do not act upon it may suffer more physical consequences., 2023.01.25.