Date Full Report Received06/08/2005
Date Abstract Report Received12/19/2006
InvestigationInstitution: University of Minnesota
Primary Investigator: John Deen
Co-Investigators: Leena Anil, Rebecca Morrison, Sam Baidoo
Funded ByNational Pork Board
Evaluation of well-being, productivity, and longevity of pergnant sows housed in groups in pens with an electronic sow feeder or separately in gestation stalls. Am. J. Vet. Res. 2005 Sep; 66(9):1630-8.
As expected, there are benefits and challenges to all the sow housing gestation systems studied. The aim of this study was to identify and understand these benefits and challenges of each gestation sow housing system before progressing to improve the housing systems for pregnant sows. By its nature, stalls provide protection from aggression. However, stalls impose severe restriction in postural changes especially towards late gestation sufficient to cause notable injuries. The possibility of aggression both at mixing and at the feeder makes the pens with electronic sow feeding (ESF) a stressful type of accommodation for gestating sows. The injury levels and cortisol contents were lower in stall-housed sows compared to sows in pens with ESF, which is one measure detailing better welfare. The production data indicated a higher conception rate and lower sow removals in stall-housed sows which identifies the benefit of gestation stalls. More sows from pens with ESF had to be removed due to lameness though the flooring of stalls was also slatted; the disadvantage of slatted floor could be aggravated in group housing. The fear test did not give conclusive results regarding the advantage of the systems. Even though hoop system may be welfare friendly in terms of lower cortisol and injury, it needs special attention to sort out the issues of higher return rate, smaller group size, labor requirement and waste disposal.