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Late Introduction of Sows and Gilts to Farrowing Environment

by 5m Editor
30 September 2008, at 12:00pm

DENMARK - Pedersen and Jensen of the University of Aarhus have carried out research that indicates no adverse effects on the progress of farrowing or maternal behaviour when older sows are introduced late to farrowing pens but gilts had more stillborn piglets.

To evaluate the effect of late introduction to farrowing pens on the progress of farrowing and maternal behaviour, 20 primiparous and 20 multiparous sows were allocated randomly to one of two treatments: 1) early introduction to pen (EP; n=20) and 2) late introduction to pen (LP; n=20). To evaluate the difference between loose-housed sows and crated sows when introduced late to the farrowing environment, a third treatment was included: late introduction to farrowing crate (LC; n=20).

Sow behaviour and piglet birth intervals were recorded using video recordings from 16 hours (h) before the birth of the first piglet (BFP) until 48 hours after BFP. Behavioural data were analysed using PROC MIXED in SAS and the percentage of stillborn piglets and the response of the sow to piglet scream were analyzed using PROC GENMOD in SAS.

Before farrowing (16 to 3 h before BFP), sows introduced late to pens had more postural changes per hour than sows introduced early to pens (LP=12.7; EP=8.9; P=0.04), whereas there were no differences between sows introduced late to crates and sows introduced late to pens (LC=14.2; LP=12.7; P=0.53).

Interbirth interval (P=0.04), variation in the interbirth interval (P=0.01), and percentage of stillborn piglets (P=0.003) were affected by an interaction between parity and treatment. In multiparous sows, there were no differences between treatments (P>0.18) either in the progress of farrowing or in the percentage of stillborn piglets. For primiparous sows, there were no differences (P>0.22) between sows that were introduced late to pens and sows that were introduced early to pens.

Primiparous sows that were introduced late to crates compared with pens had longer interbirth intervals (LC=29 ± 4.9 min; LP=16 ± 2.9 min; P=0.02), a greater variation of these intervals (LC=35 ± 8.3 min; LP=16 ± 3.6 min; P=0.006), and a greater percentage of stillborn piglets (LC=21%; 95% confidence interval ranging 14 to 30%; LP=5%; 95% confidence interval ranging from 2 to 12%; P=0.004).

After farrowing, neither postural changes, time spent in lateral lying, number of near-crushing situations, nor the response to piglet scream test were affected by treatment (P>0.09).

When sows and gilts were introduced late to farrowing pens, neither progress of farrowing nor maternal behaviour of importance for piglet crushing was influenced. However, crating primiparous sows that were introduced late to the farrowing environment compared with pen housing had detrimental effects on the progress of farrowing and the percentage of stillborn piglets.

Reference
Pedersen L.J. and T. Jensen. 2008. Institute of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, 8830 Tjele, Denmark. J. Anim Sci. 2008. 86:2730-2737. doi:10.2527/jas.2007-0749

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