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Study Shows Group Housed and Conventionally Housed Sows Perform Equally

by 5m Editor
11 March 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1196. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1196

Research conducted at the University of Manitoba shows the reproductive performance of sows housed in groups on straw to be comparable to those housed in conventional systems. In 1994 the University of Manitoba began looking at alternatives to gestation stalls, focusing on low cost group housing.

In one study pigs housed in groups on straw were compared through the first to fifth parity to those housed in conventional systems.

Animal Science Professor Dr. Laurie Conner says the performance of sows kept in the group system and individually fed was comparable to those in the conventional system.

"Things like feet and legs tend to be a bit better than animals that were on the concrete in the conventional system but, because of the system we were looking at which was a shelter type of system, in one of the years we found that it was a real challenge to keep those animals in good body condition because it was very very cold.

However they were very comparable in terms of production and reproductive performance, slightly lower culling rates in the groups on straw.

Feed intake, because of the type of system we were looking at which is shelter based so therefor they're more subject to the cold temperatures in the winter, didn't affect the pigs but they needed to take in more feed.

Generally with group systems, if you compare them with stalls, you would expect to see a slightly higher feed intake on the sows because they're loose. They're able to move around and they use more energy."

Dr. Conner doubts there's one alternative to the stall system that's the answer. She says there are probably several so producers who are looking for alternatives need to be able to assess them from their own management strategies, there own her sizes and those sorts of things but, she says, there are options coming along and good research to support them.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor