CANADA - Research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc will help manufactures of concrete slatted flooring for swine barns improve the design of their product, writes Bruce Cochrane.
As part of research being conducted in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc to develop tools to assist in transitioning to group sow housing, scientists with the University of Manitoba are evaluating new designs for slatted flooring.
Most North American swine barns use partially or totally slatted concrete floors, to allow for the removal of liquid manure.
Dr Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba's Animal Science Department, notes, if the gaps between the slats are too wide, the pigs can get their feet caught, twist their ankles or injure their claws.
Dr Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba:
There are what some might refer to as standards but they don't appear to be necessarily based on anything more than what kind of works, particularly in terms of manure removal.
We see that with sows probably one of the more common ones is about a one inch gap which actually is a bit wide for the sow.
There are regulations within the European Union that it should not be larger than, I believe it's about five eighths of an inch but they're not in North American.
What we've seen, in speaking with manufacturers and people that are using the slatted flooring, there is quite a variation.
Dr Connor says scientists have determined the slat width and the gap between those slats that appears to have the least impact on the movement of the sow.
She says the new design has been installed in pens where researchers can follow the sows through gestation and track various indicators of sow comfort and behavior, very specifically looking at their feet, whether they're developing lesions, getting claws caught and lameness while also tracking aspects of dunging, manure removal and air quality.
She expects the research to benefit to those who manufacture and use concrete slatted flooring.
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