Developing a group housing system for lactating sows and their litters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

Group housing of gestating sows has become mandatory in the EU due to welfare concerns about individually confined sows. During lactation, however, most sows are housed in farrowing crates. A multi-suckling (MS) system provides a larger and more complex environment with more possibilities to express natural behaviours. By housing several sows together with their litters, MS-systems can enhance piglet social development and have the potential to stimulate socially facilitated eating behaviour. MS-systems, however, also pose risks including disrupted nursing behaviour and increased piglet mortality. Thus, MS-systems can provide both advantages and disadvantages for sow and piglet welfare. In the Netherlands, a new MS-system for five sows and their litters has been developed, in which sows can move freely and piglets can enter the communal area after 1 week of age. The system includes a communal floor-feeding area where piglets can learn to eat from the sows. MS-raised piglets showed indicators of improved pre- and post-weaning development. Pre-weaning mortality, particularly before mixing litters, was however an issue that needed attention. In a new version of the system, this issue will be addressed. In addition, in future experiments we will investigate performance of sows and piglets during a 9-week lactation period in which a more gradual weaning process is stimulated using intermittent-suckling.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International conference on pig welfare - Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward?
Place of PublicationCopenhagen, Denmark
PublisherMinistry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark
Pages139
Number of pages168
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational conference on pig welfare: Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward? - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 29 Apr 201530 Apr 2015

Conference

ConferenceInternational conference on pig welfare: Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward?
CountryDenmark
CityCopenhagen
Period29/04/1530/04/15

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van Nieuwamerongen, S. E., Bolhuis, J. E., Soede, N. M., & van der Peet-Schwering, C. M. C. (2015). Developing a group housing system for lactating sows and their litters. In Proceedings of the International conference on pig welfare - Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward? (pp. 139). Copenhagen, Denmark: Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark.