Checkoff-Funded Review on Sow Housing Published

by 5m Editor
18 March 2004, at 12:00am

US - A Pork Checkoff-funded workshop that reviewed scientific literature on housing systems for gestating sows and gilts reports no clear scientific evidence from comparative studies that stalls or well-managed pens cause consistent or significant signs of stress among pregnant gilts or sows by measures of physiology, behavior or performance and health.

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The review has been published in The Professional Animal Scientist, a refereed journal from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS).

Dr. John McGlone, an animal scientist from Texas Tech University, is the primary author of the literature review. The literature review, titled “Compilation of the Scientific Literature Comparing Housing Systems for Gestating Sows and Gilts Using Measures of Physiology, Behavior, Performance and Health,“ was done by a multidisciplinary panel of scientists, both national and international.

“Based on the complete body of available scientific studies, the review concludes that well-managed pens and gestation stalls produce similar states of welfare of pregnant sows based on measures of physiology, behavior, performance and health,“ said McGlone.

The objectives of the study were to look at the scientific literature and summarize findings about measuring behavior, performance or physiology to determine if the welfare for gilts and sows housed in indoor group pens is different from those housed in stalls. The papers selected for inclusions in the review had to be published in a refereed scientific journal. Papers had to compare more than one sow housing system and greater weight was given to studies that included replication of treatment groups. A meta-analysis (analysis of treatment effects across studies) was performed to look for trends over a number of studies.

The Pork Checkoff relies on sound science in the information and programs developed for pork producers. This scientific review addresses the current research available on housing systems for gestating sows and gilts in order to provide a comprehensive look at measuring welfare, according to Dr. Anna Johnson, director of animal welfare for the Pork Checkoff.

“This research review helps us understand how science looks at different sow housing methods when the scientific design is good and factors other than the housing type are not influencing the outcome,“ said Johnson. “This information can be used by producers as they make management and facility decisions for their operation.“

The review is available online to members of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, and can be found in the April issue of the journal.

Other authors of the paper include: Ebby von Borell of Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany; John Deen of the University of Minnesota; Anna Johnson of the National Pork Board; Donald Levis of The Ohio State University; Marie Meunier-Salaün of the National Institute for Agriculture Research (INRA) UMR Calf and Pig, Saint-Gilles, France; Julie Morrow of USDA-ARS Livestock Issues Research Unit, Lubbock, Texas; David Reeves of the University of Georgia; Janeen Salak-Johnson of the University of Illinois and Paul Sundberg of the National Pork Board.

Source: National Pork Board - 18th March 2004

5m Editor