Defecation behaviour


Pigs are inherently clean animals and avoid lying in feaces.  From a few days of age pigs will become toilet trained to defecation in a specific area of the environment.


The defecation pattern of the pen provides a good long term indicator of comfort.  The veterinarian can see the area even without the pig’s presence.   Abnormal defecation patterns indicate a chronic reduction in optimal environment.

Pig’s defection area can be expected to be either

Where the pen is coolest

Where the pen has a draught – the pigs will defecation under the cold dropping air (blue in the picture)

Where the pen is wettest – note the feaces under the drinker

Where the pen is darkest


Where the pen is most private – this can lead to a blocked feeder

Hot pigs will specifically choose to wallow in feaces and slurry to assist cooling.  Sometimes, this is unavoidable, but its occurrence should be minimised.  Once pigs become ‘dirty’ they can be extremely difficult to retrain – even when provided with ‘ideal’ environments.


Note the pig’s in the picture are lying by the drinkers – another abnormal position

Abnormal defecation patterns can also limit other pen resources creating additional stressors – for example when pigs defecate into feeders, waters or over lying areas.