Smell This!

Pigs are highly motivated for exploring. When commercially kept pigs are unable to satisfy their need for performing this behaviour, it can be detrimental for both animal welfare and farm economy. Despite the pig’s highly developed sense of smell, the potential to use odours as enrichment tools in modern pig production has only received very little attention. This project aims to investigate the potential of using odours to optimize current enrichment strategies and thereby improve animal welfare alongside farm economy.

A 3 year project (2021-2024) funded by Formas.


The overarching aim will be achieved through studies of the olfactory capacities and interests of domestic pigs, followed by investigations into methods of practical application on farm. This will accumulate the knowledge necessary to assess the possibility of exploiting odours as a management tool in existing enrichment strategies.
To be able to utilize odours as management tools for pig enrichment strategies, we need to:

  1. identify odours that pigs are able to detect and distinguish between (WP1)
  2. rank the identified odours in order of interest shown by the pigs (WP1)
  3. establish whether odorant addition to currently used enrichment materials can stimulate or prolong the
    pigs interest towards the material (WP2)
  4. establish how often and to what extent odours need to be re-applied or replaced in order for the
    enrichment material to remain of interest to the pigs (WP2)

Update winter 2021: The experimental design of WP1 is on-going, and it is possible to follow all news from the project via Twitter (follow twitter handle: @mariarorvang).

Project leader: Maria Vilain Rørvang

Project partners:

  • Anna Wallenbeck, SLU, Sweden
  • Birte L. Nielsen, UFAW, England
  • Anna Valros, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Sarah-Lina Schild, Innovation centre for organic agriculture/Seges, Denmark
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