Sow behavior and productivity in a small stable group-housing system
Magnus Campler, PhD; Monique Pairis-Garcia, DVM, PhD; Justin Kieffer, DVM; Steven Moeller, PhD
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Objectives: To quantify behavior and productivity of females grouped in small static groups when fed using a single-entry/exit electronic sow feeder (ESF) over two consecutive gestation periods.
Materials and methods: Fifty-eight gilts with no previous experience in group gestation housing were enrolled into 3, static, successive cohorts (Cohort 1, n = 20; Cohort 2, n = 18; and Cohort 3, n = 20) at day 35 of gestation. Pigs were housed individually throughout the farrowing period, and pigs that were healthy were moved back into their respective groups for their second gestation (Cohort 1, n = 19; Cohort 2, n = 13; Cohort 3, n = 17). Pig behavior, social rank, and post-gestation productivity was quantified for each gestation period.
Results: Agonistic behaviors decreased between the first and second gestation (P < .001). High-ranked sows initiated more agonistic bouts around the ESF when compared to intermediate- and low-ranked sows (P < .001). Duration of active (P = .78) and inactive (P = .76) behaviors did not differ between gestation periods, but more active behaviors were observed near the ESF when compared to other areas of the pen (P < .001). High-ranked sows visited the feeder more frequently when compared to intermediate- and low-ranked sows (P < .001). No differences in subsequent litter or female productivity measures were found based on sow ranking.
Implications: Housing gestating females in small static groups with an ESF decreased aggression between the first and second parity without detrimentally affecting general pig behavior or productivity.
Keywords: aggression, gestation, group housing, electronic sow feeder
Cite as: Campler M, Pairis-Garcia M, Kieffer J, et al.. Sow behavior and productivity in a small stable group-housing system. J Swine Health Prod 2019;27(2):76-86.
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