Luo’s study is the first to compare the long-term effects of an enriched pen with those of a standard bare pen. Luo assessed not only the pigs’ behaviour but also their growth, their immune systems and their emotional state.
Luo discovered that pigs from enriched pens had different levels of natural antibodies than pigs from conventional pens, which probably makes them respond more effectively to infections. Her discovery ties in with earlier research findings by Ingrid van Dixhoorn, who found that pigs from enriched housing had better resistance to the PRRS virus.
Another significant benefit is that the pigs from enriched environments coped better with being weaned. After weaning they ate better and grew faster than pigs in a bare environment. What is more, they displayed fewer stress symptoms and could cope with disappointment better.