Effect of Individual, Group or ESF Housing in Pregnancy and Individual or Group Housing in Lactation on the Performance of Sows and Their Piglets

  • Weng, R.C. (Department of Biological Science and Technology, Meiho Institute of Technology) ;
  • Edwards, S.A. (School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University) ;
  • Hsia, L.C. (Department of Biological Science and Technology, Meiho Institute of Technology)
  • Received : 2008.05.05
  • Accepted : 2008.11.13
  • Published : 2009.09.01


To evaluate different housing systems, 80 gilts were randomly allocated at puberty to four treatments: i) sow stall in gestation followed by farrowing crate (SC), ii) group housing with individual feeding in gestation followed by farrowing crate (GC), iii) ESF (Electronic Sow Feeding) system in gestation followed by farrowing crate (EC), and iv) ESF system followed by group farrowing pen (EG). The results showed that stalled sows had a longer interval between puberty and second estrus (p<0.001). The sows kept in the ESF system gained more body weight (p<0.01) and backfat (p<0.05) prior to service, and more backfat during gestation (p<0.05), but also had greater backfat losses in the subsequent lactation (p<0.01). Sows changing from loose housing to confinement at farrowing had longer gestation length (p<0.001). Total litter size did not differ significantly between gestation treatments, but the number of stillborn piglets was significantly higher in the SC treatment (p<0.01). After weaning, SC sows had the longest interval for rebreeding (p<0.001). Some EG sows came into heat before weaning, giving this treatment the shortest interval. These results indicate that gestation confinement in sow stalls had several detrimental effects on sow performance relative to group housing.



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