Toward a better knowledge of pig behaviour for a good relationship with humans in farms


Tallet, C., Courboulay, V., Devillers, N., Meunier-Salaün, M.C., Prunier, A., Villain, A. (2020). Toward a better knowledge of pig behaviour for a good relationship with humans in farms. INRAE Productions Animales, [online] 33(2), 84-94.

Plain language summary

The relationship with animals is at the heart of the breeder profession. The breeder's behavior and choice of techniques have a significant impact on the welfare of their pigs. Knowledge of the human-animal relationship shows us that creating a relationship of trust, without fear, brings mutual benefit in terms of well-being and security.


The relationship between pigs and humans is at the heart of animal husbandry and animal welfare. Humans, through their behaviour and their choices of practices, housing conditions and herd management, influence the mental state of their animals. This article reviews the knowledge on the human-animal relationship in pig farming. Farming practices and management systems have an impact on the relationship between pigs and humans. Many practices are sources of pain and fear and induce subsequent reactions of fear in piglets towards humans, even unknown ones. Contrarily, practices that aim at developing a close relationship, reduce fear and increase confidence in humans. Human presence, even for a few minutes per day, is sufficient to get a pig used to humans. Talking to animals is essential, even in utero. Piglets appreciate soft tactile contacts, strokes and scratches. Thus, human presence, when combined with positive interactions, gains a positive value, which creates a climate of trust and stimulates positive emotions that will improve animal welfare. Creating a good relationship in farms is thus essential. Pig welfare will benefit from it, but also famers’ security and satisfaction at work. A better understanding of pig behaviour is necessary in order to take more account of it. Giving advice and training farmers have to integrate this knowledge.

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