Understanding Natural Behaviors Key to Moving Pigs Easily

Farmscape for June 30, 2010   (Episode 3361)

A Saskatchewan based low stress pig handling trainer says understanding the natural behaviors of the pig and overcoming our own natural instincts are key to avoiding the frustrations often associated with moving pigs.

White Fox, Saskatchewan based DNL Farms uses video to demonstrate how pigs respond to handlers and how the pigs' natural responses can be used to get them to move more easily.

Low stress pig handling trainer Nancy Lidster says virtually all of the handling problems encountered are related to pigs being scared.


Clip-Nancy Lidster-DNL Farms:
Handlers need to be able to recognize when pigs are getting scared and back off.

They also need to realize that pigs want to keep track of them.

They don't want us out of their sight so they tend to move themselves around and adjust themselves so they can keep track of us.

Fear is one thing and the other thing is using their attention to our advantage.

If they're moving away from us and following other animals we don't want to do things that are going to take their attention back towards us and stop them.

It's just understanding the patterns that we get from them and how to set up the patterns that we want so that they move easily and aren't stopping at doorways, aren't balking, aren't wedging, aren't turning back on us.

A lot of times people are busy pushing and hurrying and rushing to try to get them to go faster and really to get them to go faster all we really need to do is let them move calmly and cut out all the stopping, all the wedging and those sorts of things.

If we cut out the pile-ups and just let them move forward calmly we can save time.

It's not by pushing them harder.

It's by letting them move at their own pace that we save time and take the stress off of them and ourselves as well.


Lidster stresses, while the pigs are relying on their instincts to remain safe, the natural response of the handler when slow-downs occur is to become more aggressive and push harder which only makes the pigs more afraid and even harder to control.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council