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Pampered Pigs Get a Better Start on Life

November 20, 2002
Oddly Enough - UK Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Piglets may be happy wallowing in -- but they get a much better start in life if they are nurtured on a warm waterbed.

Instead of snuggling up to their mothers for warmth in their cold pigsty and running the risk of being crushed -- a common cause of early porcine death -- German scientists said waterbeds could be a safer alternative.

When Martin Ziron and researchers at the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics in Giessen, Germany tested various heating methods on 1,400 piglets during their first few weeks of life, waterbeds won hands down.

"Around 99 percent of the piglets preferred warm waterbeds to any of the alternatives, spending well over half the day lounging about on them and only getting up to feed or play," New Scientist said on Wednesday.

The scientists compared the number of injuries, which usually occur while scrambling for a feeding position, and the weight gain of the piglets which were provided with plastic plates, foam mats, waterbeds, straw or concrete.

Piglets on the waterbeds had fewer injuries and gained much more weight than the animals kept on concrete.

"The waterbeds are made from a tough plastic membrane and can be heated from underneath by an electric mat or from above by infra-red lamps," according to the magazine.


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