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Pigs with toys are happier, produce better bacon

meryl ward pigs toysAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so what happens when you give a pig a toy for it to play with while it is being fattened for the slaughterhouse? I suppose those green piggies from the Angry Birds franchise would be able to appreciate such a plaything, as they would then leave the birds’ eggs well alone. As a result, they would be slaughtered and green slices of bacon (theoretically, anyways) would be served up, being tasty to the last bite. That is what a pig welfare group in the UK are doing, investing up to £100,000 in chews and toys for the animals, claiming that doing so results in less stress, producing tastier meat along the way.

One of the bigger hits among our porcine friends would be the plastic gizmo called the Porcichew, where our fattened dinner on legs are able to swing on in circles like children on a roundabout. Less anxious pigs release less of the stress hormone known as cortisol, which in turn affect muscles – and the quality of meat directly. It is said that pork from stressed pigs end up looking paler and softer. Hmmm, I’d better take a closer look at my bacon slices the next time round…

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