Jeremy N. Marchant-Forde USDA

Resources Authored

Factsheets

Farrowing Systems for the Sow and her Piglets

Publish Date: 04/18/2011

In the U.S., housing for the lactating sow and her piglets can be divided into five main areas. Total confinement (farrowing stall) houses 83.4 % of the sows. Remaining operations house far fewer sows with open buildings that have outside access at 12.4 %, open building with no outside access, 2.9 %, pasture with hut or no building, 0.7 %, and lot with hut or no building the lowest at 0.6 % [1]. Farrowing stalls have become widely accepted by the industry for numerous reasons: they have made sow management easier, efficiently utilized space, and they can help to reduce piglet mortality [2]. However, the farrowing stall has received criticism due to potential detrimental effects it may impose on the welfare of the sow (such as occurrence of shoulder ulcers [3, 4], behaviors considered problematic [5, 6, 7], and sow’s movements are more restricted). The development of an alternative, economical farrowing system that retains the advantages of the conventional farrowing stall, and provides welfare benefits to the sow and piglets, could be beneficial to the industry [8, 9].


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Factsheets

Natural Farrowing Behavior of the Sow and Piglets

Publish Date: 12/29/2010

To determine the best practices for providing good sow and litter welfare in the farrowing accommodation, a good starting point is to re-examine the behavioral patterns that have been documented around farrowing and during lactation, in a natural or semi-natural environment. There is a series of behaviors carried out, with sows and piglets undergoing various phases of isolation, community integration, and living. Jensen has proposed that maternal behavior can be divided into six distinct parts: (i) isolation and nest site seeking, (ii) nest building, (iii) farrowing, (iv) nest occupation, (v) social integration, and (vi) weaning [1].


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Factsheets

Hypothetical Welfare Assessments for the Sow and Her Litter

Publish Date: 01/03/2011

The assessment of welfare within farrowing systems presents a unique challenge for pork producers, veterinarians, and animal scientists. Welfare assessment within all other phases of swine production involves pigs at a single stage of their productive life. Within the farrowing environment, the sow and her piglets are at two very different stages of their life, and have different requirements in regards to their thermal, social, and physical environments [1]. A system that may be ideal for the welfare needs and requirements of the sow may be far from optimal for her piglets, and vice versa. In order for objective and science-based assessments to be conducted on swine farms, we must have an appreciation of the sows and her piglets welfare during farrowing and lactation.


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Resources Reviewed

Factsheets

Minimizing Aggression Among Group-Housed Gestating Sows at Mixing

Publish Date: 04/23/2012

A common problem in group-housed gestating sows is aggression at mixing. Mixing-induced aggression can cause injuries to sows, such as skin lesions, vulva biting, and even lameness [1]. The initial aggression can also result in subordinate sows becoming fearful of further conflicts while attempting to obtain feed which leads to inadequate feed intake and poor body condition [2]. Poor body condition represents poor welfare. Mixing sows during the first few weeks after breeding may reduce pregnancy rate [3,4]. Reproduction failure and lameness can result in sows being culled, which reduces longevity of sows. So, management strategies are needed to minimize aggression at mixing thereby to enhance welfare and performance of group-housed gestating sows.


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