Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R2544



Summary and Implications

Gestation stalls will be banned in the European Union by 2013. Similar legislative pursuits are occurring in the U.S. However, little work has addressed the sows’ behavioral adaption from a loose housed gestation environment to a more confined farrowing / lactation environment, and in turn if this has any adverse effects on her overall behavioral repertoire and performance. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to compare gilt behavior and performance over lactation after gilts had been housed in a deep bedded gestation hoop. The project was approved by Iowa State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. A total of 10 Duroc gilts (163.8 kg to 200.1 kg) were observed over lactation. Gilts were group gestated in one pen in a hoop barn. Gilts were moved into farrowing stalls, 5 d before predicted farrowing. A total of 10 stalls were used during this trial (containing one gilt) and the gilt was the experimental unit. Behavioral data; were collected by live observation using a 5-min scan sample over a 4-h period in the morning (0700-1100) on day 0, 7, 14, and 21 of being housed in the farrowing stall. Two postures (active [summation of standing, stepping, eating and drinking] and inactive [summation of sitting and lying]) and one behavior; nursing were collected. Performance measures; Total number of piglets born, born alive, stillborn, pre-weaning mortality and weaned were recorded. Stillborns were defined as any piglet found dead during or shortly after farrowing and had not breathed. Mummies were classified if they had one or more of the following characteristics: rubbery skeleton, bloated stomach, lack of hair, brown or black body color, sunken eyes, loose skin or bad odor. Statistical Analysis: Behavior and performance data will be presented descriptively. On the first day when gilts were placed into the farrowings stall, gilts engaged in almost 80 % of their time budget in an inactive state (which was the summation of sitting and lying). There were no reports of nursing as no gilts on d 0 had piglets. By day 7, a portion of inactive time had been shifted over into nursing related behaviors, and for the reminder of the time in lactation gilts spent about 60 % inactive, 25 % nursing and the remainder active (15 %). All gilts farrowed by the ninth day in the farrowing unit. The average number born was 9, born alive 7.55, stillborn, 1.36, number that died before weaning, 0.82 and weaned 6.73 respectively. Therefore in conclusion, gilts behaviorally adapted to the farrowing stall and their performance was not negatively affected, even after being housed in a deep bedded loose housed environment for gestation.

Copyright Holder

Iowa State University