Energetics of sows and gilts in gestation crates in the cold.

M.W.A. Verstegen, S.E. Curtis

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    Seventy pregnant sows and gilts in gestation crates with unbedded concrete-slat floors and partitions in common (which permitted contact by neighbors) in a closed house with air temperature 10 to 12 degrees C during cold weather were studied for 3 wk. The animals' lower critical temperature and thermoregulatory heat and feed requirements were estimated from measured variables, including ME intake, body weight and its change and body surface temperature, and other calculated values and assumptions. Estimates for a 165-kg sow or gilt in such an environment were: lower critical temperature = 15 degrees C; thermoregulatory heat requirement = 126 to 161 kcal/d per 1 C degree of coldness (higher as pregnancy progresses); and thermoregulatory feed requirement = 42 to 54 g/d per 1 C degree of coldness (assuming 3 kcal ME/g of diet). The sow's lower critical temperature was affected by state of pregnancy; in late pregnancy it was 1.6 to 2.6 C degrees lower than in early pregnancy. These estimates of the pregnant sow's thermoregulatory heat and feed requirements at effective environmental temperatures below the lower critical temperature accord well with those published before. But this estimate of the pregnant sow's lower critical temperature is approximately 5 C degrees lower than several made in laboratory settings on animals held individually, with no opportunity to huddle. The fact that every sow and gilt in this experiment could make mechanical contact with at least one neighbor at all times, and sometimes two, might account for much of the difference in lower critical temperature estimates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2865-2871
    JournalJournal of Animal Science
    Publication statusPublished - 1988

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