Housing of pregnant sows in loose and confined systems--a field study 1. Vulva and body lesions, culling reasons and production results.
ABSTRACT A field study was carried out in 18 herds with loose housing of pregnant sows (loose herds) and in 18 herds with tethered or stalled pregnant sows (confined herds). Three of the loose herds were excluded due to different kind of flooring from the rest of the herds. The remaining 15 herds had partly slatted concrete floors and electronic sow feeding. The frequencies of sows with vulva and body lesions, thin sows as well as the culling reasons and production results were used as animal welfare indicators for the herds. Vulva lesions were found only in the loose herds and the mean prevalence proportion of sows with lesions within these herds was 15.2%. All vulva lesions observed in this study seemed to be caused by biting. The relative risk of vulva lesions was 2.6 times higher in the loose herds with no roughage feeding as compared to loose herds with appetite feeding of roughage. The sows in the loose herds, that had a feeding station with a mechanical hind gate had 1.8 greater risk of vulva lesions than sows in the loose herds that used a feeding station with an electronic gate. The mean prevalence proportion of sows with body lesions was 13.1% in the loose herds and 4.0% in the confined herds. Aggression between sows seemed to be the main cause of body lesions in the loose herds, while decubitus ulcers on the shoulders were the main cause of body lesions in the confined herds. Sows in loose herds that were not fed additional roughage feeding had 1.7 times greater risk of body lesions than sows in herds that used additional roughage feeding. The main culling reasons and production results were similar in the loose and confined herds. This study showed that there were welfare problems both in confined and loose herds, however, with improved management, many of the welfare problems associated with loose housing can be reduced.
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ABSTRACT: To determine whether there is a relationship between sow injuries and size of gestation stalls relative to sow size. Prospective study. 267 pregnant sows. Sows were randomly selected from 4 swine farms. Sow and stall measurements were obtained, and injuries were scored on the basis of location, number, and depth. Ratios of stall length to sow length and stall width to sow height were calculated. High injury scores were associated with low ratios of stall length to sow length and stall width to sow height. A small increase in stall dimensions could reduce injuries and improve well-being of sows considerably.Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 10/2002; 221(6):834-6. · 1.72 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Previous studies on feeder use in group-housed pregnant sows focused on dynamic groups and protected electronic sow feeders (ESF). This study observed 60 pregnant sows, 1st to 8th parity--housed from Day 29 of pregnancy to 1 week before parturition in stable groups of 20 animals, 1 Fitmix feeder per group. Data from 25 nonconsecutive 24-hr feeding cycles showed sows making several visits to the feeder. Literature on conventional ESF indicated shorter daily feeder occupation. Daily feeder occupation per sow decreased over time (p < .001). The study observed maximum feeder activity in the hours following the start of each feeding cycle. During the experiment, there was a relatively stable, quickly established, and maintained feeder order (W > 0.80, p < .001). This highly correlated with dominance rank (r(s) = 0.80, p < .001). High-ranking sows fed earlier and made as many--but longer--visits as low-ranking sows; thus, they occupied the feeder more time every day (p < .01). Although optimization of the feeder efficiency may take several weeks, Fitmix seems an efficient feeding system for medium-size, stable groups of sows.Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 02/2008; 11(4):319-36. · 0.89 Impact Factor