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Elevated platforms for weaners: do pigs use the extra space?
  1. Michaela Fels,
  2. Franziska Lüthje,
  3. Joana Bill,
  4. Kamelia Aleali and
  5. Nicole Kemper
  1. Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behaviour, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Hannover, Germany
  1. E-mail for correspondence; michaela.fels{at}tiho-hannover.de

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Split-level housing systems for pigs may be a simple and relatively inexpensive method for increasing space allowance in existing livestock buildings. Additionally, a second level allows the pigs to structure their pen into different functional areas, and thus can contribute to pig welfare.1–3 First studies investigating the possibility of introducing a plateau unit into a pig’s pen were carried out almost 30 years ago.4–7 Nevertheless, until today, split-level pens do not represent a well-established housing system although keeping pigs in such pens can have several advantages. This is largely due to the fact that the additional space provided on a plateau is often not considered to fulfil legal spatial requirements for pigs. However, recently in the Netherlands, it was decided that the plateaus did in fact meet Dutch statutory space requirements.8 The question arises as to whether other countries should follow suit. Due to a lack of scientific knowledge on the acceptance of platforms by pigs, it was argued that there might not necessarily be more space available for all group members if some of them refuse to use the platform.9 Recently, a study on fattening pigs showed only moderate use of an elevated platform.10

In the present study, scientific data on the acceptance of an elevated platform by weaner pigs under modern farming conditions were collected. For this purpose, two split-level pens were …

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