Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R2633



Summary and Implications

Currently, several large production systems in the U.S. are utilizing large pen configurations of ≥ 200 pigs. Producers who are using this large pen concept often double stock their young pigs from arrival for several weeks and then gates are opened up to create one large pen. Therefore, pigs from smaller pens intermingle with unknown co specifics and also have the possibility of utilizing new feeder and drinker resources. The objective of this study was to determine resource use when smaller pens were reconfigured to a larger pen design for the growing pig. The experiment was conducted in April, 2009. One wean to finish site within a large Midwestern commercial production system was used. All pigs were double-stocked and kept in smaller pen configurations for ~8 wks and then the back gates of eight consecutive pens. A total of 192 pigs in double-stocked pens (96 barrows and 96 gilts) received a unique colored ear tag in their left ear (n = 4 barrows and 4 gilts per small pen that would be opened to a large pen). Immediately upon opening up the swing gates, live observations occurred using an instantaneous 10 min scan sample for 2-hour duration (0800 to 1000-h). The number of pigs at their home feeder or home drinker was recorded along with pigs that were using a new feeder and new drinker respectively. Behavior will be presented descriptively. Within 2-h of opening up the swing gates pigs were visiting “foreign” feeder and drinkers. In conclusion, upon opening gates and creating larger pen configurations, pigs do not prefer their “home” feeder and or drinker over new resources within the pen.

Copyright Holder

Iowa State University