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Narrower slat and gap width flooring benefits sow foot health

7 September 2018, at 12:00am

Research conducted by the University of Manitoba has shown narrowing the gap width in slatted concrete flooring can improve the foot health of sows while maintaining the effectiveness of manure handling

As part of research conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists with the University of Manitoba compared different slatted concrete flooring configurations, looking at the effect of slat width and gap width on the health and longevity of group housed gestating sows and on air quality and manure management.

Dr Qiang Zhang, a professor in Biosystems Engineering with the University of Manitoba, explains scientists compared the typical slat and gap width flooring to a new narrower slat and gap width configuration:

"We actually put the new floor in two rooms: one room with the traditional 5x1 inch floor, and the other room had the new floor structure with a narrower gap of 4.25x0.75 inches.

"Then we put sows into the two rooms and basically did a direct comparison of the sow performance and also the air quality in these two rooms.

"Now, the short answer is there's no difference between the two rooms in terms of sow performance and air quality.

"That means the narrow gap did not affect manure drainage, floor cleanliness and or sow cleanliness.

"Statistically there's no difference between the two rooms.

"However, we did notice there were fewer foot lesions when sows inhabited the room with the narrower floor."

Dr Zhang says the results of this work have just been released but the hope is that it will be used by producers and floor manufacturing companies in deciding what flooring to use in loose housing systems for gestating sows.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.Ca