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Manitoba Farm Animal Council Applauds Creation of Chief Veterinary Officer Position

by 5m Editor
30 November 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1656. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1656

Researchers in Saskatoon suggest using stalls during the early period of pregnancy followed by group housing during the balance, when housing gestating sows.

In terms of housing gestating sows, the five key welfare issues identified by the Prairie Swine Centre include freedom of movement, freedom from aggression, the ability to control feed intake, environmental enrichment and comfortable and safe lying conditions.

Research Scientist in Behavior Dr. Harold Gonyou says no single system addresses all of those issues.

"In terms of controlling feed intake, some group housing systems will work very well, in fact even better than stalls, and some simply don't provide good control of individual feed intake.

In terms of environmental enrichment, I think it's only going to be the group systems that are capable of providing for that.

In terms of providing space for comfort and safety while they're lying, we probably could achieve that by having wider stalls compared to what we're using now or in a group system.

The big differences come down to the issue of freedom of movement and also the freedom from aggression. Basically stalls provide for freedom from aggression. The animals are not fighting.

In all group housing systems the animals would be fighting. In terms of freedom of movement, all group housing systems would provide freedom of movement but stalls would not and so, really, it's impossible to have the best of both worlds there on either one of those."

Dr. Gonyou says one possible compromise is to use stalls during the first four to five weeks of pregnancy, when aggression results in the greatest reductions in farrowing rates, then go to group housing.

He says another possible compromise is wider gestation stalls which allow sows to lay down more comfortably and protect their udders from being stepped on by sows in adjoining stalls.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor