An investigation of sow interaction with ice blocks on a farm with group-housed sows fed by electronic sow feeders
Meghann K. Pierdon, VMD; Alexandra M. John; Thomas D. Parsons VMD, PhD, DACAW
Complete article is available online.
PDF version is available online.
More gestating sows are being housed in pens where it is challenging to implement controlled exposure to pathogens for disease control (“feedback”). Ice blocks provide a possible vehicle for feedback material in pen gestation. Ice blocks were placed once weekly for 6 consecutive weeks in a pen of approximately 130 sows to test whether sows would interact with the blocks of ice. Sows were housed in a large, dynamic pre-implantation group fed with electronic sow feeders. Each ice block was video-recorded for 1 hour. All sows that contacted it were identified. The number of sows, their duration of contact, and amount of aggression were coded from the video. Median number of sows that interacted with the ice was 94, and increasing the number of ice blocks from two to four per pen increased the median number of sows to contact the ice and the median duration of an individual sow’s contact with the ice, and decreased the amount of aggression at each block. Our findings suggest ice blocks are a convenient vehicle for controlled exposure of feedback material to gestating sows housed in large pens. However, additional studies are needed to validate pathogen exposure with this method.
Keywords: ice, controlled exposure, group housing, behavior
Cite as: Pierdon MK, John AM, Parsons TD. An investigation of sow interaction with ice blocks on a farm with group-housed sows fed by electronic sow feeders. J Swine Health Prod 2016;24(6):309-314.
Search the AASV web site for pages with similar keywords.