Research Shows Advantages and Disadvantages to Different Sow Housing Systems

CANADA - Research conducted at the Prairie Swine Centre suggests group housing and gestation stall sow housing systems each have their own advantages and disadvantages, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 19 February 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Decisions by two North American pork processors to begin phasing out gestation stalls has reopened the debate over which is better, gestation stall systems or group housing systems.

Over the past six years researchers at the Prairie Swine Centre have been comparing the two systems.

Dr. Harold Gonyou says, when it comes to productivity, the data indicates a well managed group housing system can be as productive a gestation stall system.

Dr. Harold Gonyou-Prairie Swine Centre

If you're looking at the question of does the sow have freedom of movement?

I think it's obvious that sows in stalls can have very severe restrictions on their movement and you see this in some of the measures that you would make.

In our study where we looked at different sizes of gestation stalls, we did see that the ability of a sow to lie down within her stall was impaired if she was a large sow in our standard size stalls.

You have some evidence that sows will develop weaker muscles and also weaker bones if they live in a stall system compared to a group housing and those would tend to support the issue of freedom of movement.

If you are looking at the incidence of aggression and injuries to sows due to aggression then obviously in a group housing system you have aggression, particularly the first day or so that they are mixed together and you have some scratches and injuries due to that so there are very clear distinctions in terms of the types of problems that you have in each of the housing systems.

Dr. Gonyou says the general consensus of North American research is that both systems can achieve good productivity and it's just a questions of which the decision makers consider more important, freedom from aggression or freedom of movement.

ThePigSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.