Photo: Landbrugsavisen.dk

Can a dog whistle result in calmer pigs

A pig adviser in Denmark was keen to test this out. The results are persuasive.

When pigs in the farrowing unit at Stovgaard farm near Sønderborg in Southern Denmark need to be fed, they respond to an entirely new approach. Inspired by the fictional character, Emil from Lønneberg, and the tricks he taught his pig – Piglet - Anders Peter Andersen has started using a dog whistle, as is reported in landbrugsavisen.dk.

The whistle sounds just before the feed is dispensed. The pigs have got used to the sound and know exactly when they need to get moving.

The trick seems to work and has produced positive results.

Change in behaviour after 8 days’ training
”Over an 8-day period, we changed the sows’ behaviour. They now know that there’s no need to move until the whistle has sounded,” explains pig adviser Anders Peter Andersen.

The dog whistle has also made it easier for stockpersons to observe farrowings among the 1,500 sows and monitor the general welfare and well-being of the 75,000 slaughter pigs per year at the farm.

"Changing the behaviour of the sows at this farm has been easy, so they now know when it’s time to get up. Managing the sows and piglets is easier – and the mortality rate is lower,” he adds.

Future perspectives
In time, the dog whistle method may contribute to sustainable development in Danish agriculture with continuing high standards of animal welfare, food safety and traceability. Anders Peter Andersen says that Danish success with the dog whistle has also attracted interest from outside Denmark where the method has also been employed.