Sow and Litter Performance for Individual Crate and Group Hoop Barn Gestation Housing Systems: A Progress Report II

Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2004. The effects of swine gestation housing on sow and litter performance were evaluated at the Iowa State University Lauren Christian Swine Research and Demonstration Farm near Atlantic, IA. The gestation systems were 1) individual gestation crates in a mechanically ventilated, partially slatted floor, manure flush confinement building (CRATE); and 2) group pens in deep-bedded, naturally ventilated hoop structures (HOOP). The HOOP sows were fed with individual feed stalls. The sows were artificially inseminated in a confinement breeding barn with slatted floors and were later moved to their assigned gestation housing treatment. Sows included in the study continued in the same gestation housing their entire time at the farm. All first-litter gilts were gestated in individual gestation crates to minimize sow size differential in the groups. There were 35 sows per group in the HOOP barns. Farrowing occurred every 2 weeks on a year-round basis. All sows were fed 4.5 lb/day and increased to 6 lb/day during the last trimester of gestation. During the winter, HOOP sows were fed 25% more and CRATE sows were fed 5% more. Reproductive performance was summarized for 493 litters during the period March 2001 to September 2003. This is a progress report of a continuing study. Preliminary trends were a shorter wean-to-breed interval, 0.5 more live pigs born per litter, and 0.5 more pigs weaned/sow/year for HOOP sows compared with CRATE sows. Higher percentages of stillborn and mummied pigs were observed in the HOOP sows compared with the CRATE sows. Slightly lower pre-wean mortality and sow culling rates occurred in the CRATE sows as compared with HOOP sows, with similar sow mortality rates for both groups. The preliminary data suggests that gestating sows can be housed in deep-bedded hoop barns equipped with individual feeding stalls and achieve results comparable to individual crated gestation systems.