John Deen University of Minnesota

Resources Reviewed


Housing options for farrowing: Considerations for animal welfare and economics

Publish Date: January 18, 2009

Housing systems for farrowing sows have changed very little in the past 30 years. At the mid 20th century, two farrowing environments were common the outdoor hut in a pasture or lot, and an indoor farrowing pen. The farrowing pens were in low-cost buildings and thus the cost per square foot of building space was relatively low compared to todays buildings. Farrowing sows indoors has proved to be beneficial for both the producer and the sow and her piglets. However, recent criticism of the traditional farrowing crate has led to increased efforts to find suitable alternatives that still provide maximum production efficiency.

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How Does Weaning Age Affect the Welfare of the Nursery Pig?

Publish Date: April 23, 2012

Weaning is a traumatic event for piglets regardless of their age. The change in nutrition from a largely milk based diet to a pelleted ration affects gut local immune status and gut microflora [1, 2]. In addition, changing the accommodation and mixing piglets can all have consequences on the piglet physical, nutritional [3, 4], immunological [5], and behavioral status [6, 7]. What is the “best” or “correct” age to wean the pig according to the scientific information?

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Pork Quality Assurance (PQA Plus)

Publish Date: April 9, 2012

In June 2007, the National Pork Board launched the Pork Quality Assurance Plus® (PQA Plus®) program to reflect increasing customer and consumer interest in the way food animals are raised. PQA Plus was built as a continuous improvement program focused on food safety and animal welfare. The program maintains its food-safety tradition to ensure that U.S. pork products continue to be recognized domestically and internationally as the highest quality and safest available. At the same time, PQA Plus provides information to ensure that producers can measure, track and continuously improve animal well-being. In short, PQA Plus gives pork producers another tool to demonstrate to consumers the U.S. pork industry’s ongoing commitment to produce a safe product in a socially responsible way.

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Farrowing Systems for the Sow and her Piglets

Publish Date: April 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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Economic Impacts of Increasing finishing Pig Space Allocation

Publish Date: April 9, 2010

This report is a summary of a larger project that analyzes the economic tradeoff between economic based pig space allocations and those based on growth performance. The most efficient economic allocation of space [1,2] is about six square feet of floor space per pig. Gonyou et al. [3] reported that the minimum space allotment that…

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