Farmscape for July 28, 2020
New research into the behavior of gestating sows will be of interest to pork producers planning to continue using stall housing beyond 2024.
As part of research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan and the Prairie Swine Centre to help pork producers prepare for new requirements due to come into effect for gestating sows housed in stalls beyond 2024 under the Canadian Pig Code of Practice, scientists have found stall housed sows given 10 minutes of exercise per week appeared to be more comfortable, stereotypic behavior decreased and, among older parity sows, the number of stillborn piglets decreased.
Dr. Yolande Seddon, an Assistant Professor of Swine Behaviour and Welfare with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare, says these findings are important considering producers unable to convert to group housing by 2024 are being given an option to continue the operation of stall barns.
Clip-Dr. Yolande Seddon-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
I think it's important to understand, how does that influence the sow because, if there is no benefit to the sow, it would lead to questions as to why this recommendation is in place because potentially there could be alternative approaches to improve or enhance the welfare of the sow remaining in a stall.
In particular we looked at exercise because simply providing a greater freedom of movement has already been studied in the sense of the turn around stall.
I think the sow being in close confinement was also a contentious issue so it's important to understand the benefits and the ability to improve sow welfare by actually physically removing her from the stall and providing her with an opportunity to exercise and have a greater freedom of movement, stretch her legs, explore her environment.
Dr. Seddon notes information gathered through this work is now ready for distribution and a webinar is being planned for this summer to share the results of the research.
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