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The Welfare of Gestating Sows in Conventional Stalls and in Large Groups on Deep-litter. Guillermo Karlen Animal Welfare Science Centre Department of Primary Industries, Victoria University of Melbourne. Advantages of stall housing. Feed intake Decreased aggression Individual health check.

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the welfare of gestating sows in conventional stalls and in large groups on deep litter

The Welfare of Gestating Sows in Conventional Stalls and in Large Groups on Deep-litter

Guillermo Karlen

Animal Welfare Science Centre

Department of Primary Industries, Victoria

University of Melbourne

advantages of stall housing
Advantages of stall housing
  • Feed intake
  • Decreased aggression
  • Individual health check
welfare concerns
Welfare concerns
    • sows are unable to exercise
    • sows have limited social interaction
    • sows show signs of chronic stress (in some studies)
  • Use of stalls for gestating sows have been restricted in EU and banned in some countries
welfare in groups
Welfare in groups
  • Advantages
    • are able to exercise
    • have social interaction
    • less feed needed to maintain body condition
    • avoid aggression
  • Disadvantages
    • increased aggression
      • retaliation
      • more animals
    • feed intake control
objective
Objective
  • To assess the welfare of gestating sows in large groups on deep-litter compared to individual stalls.
experimental design
Experimental Design
  • Experiment 1:
    • 640 Sows
    • Two treatments
      • Conventional stalls (320 sows)
      • Large groups on deep litter (320 sows)
slide10

Experimental Design

  • Large groups: each replicate
    • 40 experimental + 45 non-experimental
    • N = 85 sows in 1 pen
    • Space allowance = 2.3 m2 per sow
  • Stalls: each replicate
    • 40 individually housed sows
  • Eight replicates of each treatment
    • Weekly allocation of replicates
  • 18 focal sows per replicate in each treatment
    • 6 from each parity group
  • Data collection: 27 weeks
measurements
Measurements
  • Injuries and locomotion
assessments
Assessments
  • Injuries at weaning and weeks 1, 9 and 15 of gestation
    • Scratches
    • Abrasions
    • Cuts
slide16

Measurements

  • Locomotion score

Sows were scored when standing, walking and trotting on a concrete pathway.

    • 0: sound
    • 1: difficulties putting weight on one or more limbs
    • 2: locomotion is obviously altered; signs of pain
    • 3: unable to walk, severe pain?
assessments17
Assessments
    • Weaning previous to treatment
    • Week 9 and 15 of gestation
  • Stalls: allowed to walk 30 m before assessment
  • Large groups: after feeding
slide21

Measurements

  • Behaviour
    • Feeding behaviour
    • Occurrence of aggression
    • Time budget
assessments22
Assessments
  • Week 1 and 9 of gestation
  • Feeding behaviour: feeding speed
  • Occurrence of aggression: 4 x 10 minutes of continuous observation
  • Time budget: instantaneous scanning every 5 minutes for 40 minutes
time budget

Results

Time budget

Percentage of time spent lying or standing/walking

P<0.002

P<0.005

slide25

Measurements

  • Physiological measurements
    • Salivary cortisol
      • weeks 1 and 9 of gestation
    • Immunology
      • Week 16 of gestation
      • Haematology
      • Lymphocyte sub-populations
slide27

Results

P<0.05

P<0.05

Immunology

slide29

Measurements

  • Reproductive performance
slide30

Assessments

  • Farrowing rate
  • Total born
  • Born alive
  • Stillborn
  • Mummies
  • Average piglet birth weight
  • Average piglet weaning weight
  • Total litter (alive) birth weight
  • Total litter weaning weight
slide33

Summary

  • Early in gestation
    • Higher incidence of scratches in Large groups
    • Lower incidence of abrasions in Large groups
    • Higher salivary cortisol concentration in Large groups
    • The locomotion problems were less severe in Large groups
summary
Summary
  • Late in gestation
    • Higher incidence of scratches in Large groups, although the number decreased substantially
    • Lower incidence of abrasions in Large groups
    • The locomotion problems increased in Stalls
    • Lower immune response in Stalls
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Sows in Large groups faced higher challenges early in gestation, however they seem to decrease over time
  • In contrast, Sows in stalls faced increasing challenges later in gestation
  • Different systems have different problems
  • Design is more important than the system per se
experiment 2
Experiment 2
  • Three treatments
    • Stalls (15 weeks)
    • Large groups (15 weeks)
    • 5 weeks in stalls and 10 weeks in large groups
  • 1080 sows
  • 14 months of data collection
acknowledgments
Acknowledgments
  • Funding provided by:
    • Department of Primary Industries Victoria
    • Australian Pork Limited
    • The University of Melbourne
  • Supervision:
    • Prof. Paul Hemsworth (The University of Melbourne, Australia) and
    • Dr Harold Gonyou (Prairie Swine Centre, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  • Special thanks to:
    • Dr John Barnett
    • Dr Greg Cronin
    • Dr Emma Fabrega
    • AWSC staff and students
    • R&D staff at QAF Meat Industries