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Researchers Look at Optimal Space Allowance for Nursery Pigs

24 November 2014
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - Research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc will help determine the optimum amount of space required to maximize the productivity of nursery pigs, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, scientists are working to establish a precise minimum space allowance for nursery pigs that will provide an optimal balance between profitability and animal welfare.

Dr Jennifer Brown, a research scientist ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, explains that when Canada's new Pig Code of Practice was being developed scientists looked at existing space allowance research, but while there is a lot data on grower-finisher pigs, very little research has been done on the effects of space allowance in the nursery.

Dr Jennifer Brown - Prairie Swine Centre

Certainly we recognise that nursery pigs might not require as much space as grow finish pigs because they are much more willing to over lie, lie on top of each other, where as once animals leave the nursery and they're a little big bigger you don't see that kind of behaviour, so it's common practice to have nursery pigs under a lower space allowance per bodyweight, however, we're not sure if that's good for them so this study is to basically explore that.

We're looking at some studies at the Prairie Swine Centre and at a couple of commercial sites, looking at five different space allowances and then we'll be looking at their effects on the average daily gain of these pigs, also looking at their immunity so if they're under stress and their immunity is compromised we'll be able to assess that and then also looking at their behaviour and lesions and any aggression between the individuals so basically their welfare in this situation.

Then that information will hopefully be able to go into future codes and to firm up our ideas around space allowance required by nursery pigs.

Dr Brown says if we determine nursery pigs do require more space that will need to be considered in new codes of practice, which will mean increased costs for industry.

ThePigSite News Desk

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