Floor toy reduces vices

Ireland’s EasyFix Rubber Products, based at Ballinasloe, County Galway, has introduced a new range of floor toys that has been found to work well on farms and in research establishments.

The EasyFix Pig Floor Toy is made from high-quality natural rubber to a unique design with 12 protruding rubber legs that are each 12cm in length. Only three legs are in contact with the floor at any time. The toy remains at floor level, encouraging the pig’s natural posture and behaviour, and multiple pigs can interact with it at the same time.

Currently suitable for first- and second-stage weaners (tougher models suitable for finishers and sows are currently under development), they have been developed to provide environmental enrichment with the aim of reducing vices like tail and ear biting.

Because the products are made from high-quality natural rubber, which is pliable, durable and provides a good bite for pigs, they will also be destroyed over time, which is an important part of the welfare requirements of this type of toy.

A study at Teagasc’s Moorepark Food Research Centre found the floor toys consistently lost weight and arm length when in use. Tests comparing the use of one or three toys in a pen found that the pigs had the same number of interactions with the floor toys regardless, but there was more wear if there was only one. No tail biting was observed in the pigs, but some ear biting was seen when there was only one toy rather than three.

The Teagasc researchers also noted that the floor toy didn’t appear to get dirty – in fact, it was so clean it couldn’t even be scored for dirtiness – and it didn’t get trapped in the feeder.

The EasyFix Pig Floor Toys cost roughly £25 each (there should be no VAT payable for VAT-registered UK businesses) plus carriage at cost. The toys have an estimated life of eight to nine months.

For more information call 00353 909 643344 or visit: www.easyfix.ie

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