Toward a better understanding of pig behavior and pig welfare

Anim Health Res Rev. 2011 Jun;12(1):25-32. doi: 10.1017/S1466252310000174. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Pork production began to flourish in the USA after the practice of finishing pigs on corn was popularized in the late 1600s. By the 1840s, there were 35 million pigs and 20 million people in the USA and Cincinnati was the world's largest pork market. Between 1890 and the present, the total number of pigs in the USA has remained at 50-60 million, but dramatic changes in swine husbandry over the course of the 20th century have metamorphosed pig production from small, extensive (outdoor), labor-dependent enterprises into large, intensive (indoor), capital-dependent, production systems. This development has led to debate concerning the impact of swine production on animal/human health, the environment, and the welfare of the animals under our care. In a very tangible way, the future of pork production depends on effectively addressing the public's concerns regarding animal welfare and health. Here, we review basic sensory and behavioral aspects of swine with the objective of reaching a better understanding of pig behavior and pig welfare. The premise of this discussion is that safeguarding animal welfare and health is good for pigs, pork producers and the animal-conscious public.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Swine / physiology*