Study: Use of an Electronic Feeder by Pregnant Sows

SPAIN - Chapinal and colleagues from Universitat Autónoma of Barcelona have published a paper examining use patterns of an unprotected electronic by group-housed pregnant sows. The equipment was found to be an efficient system once the animals had become acclimatised to it.
calendar icon 3 October 2008
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Previous studies on feeder use in group-housed pregnant sows focused on dynamic groups and protected electronic sow feeders (ESF).

This study observed 60 pregnant sows - 1st to 8th parity - housed from day 29 of pregnancy to 1 week before parturition in stable groups of 20 animals. Each group had one Fitmix feeder per group.

Data from 25 non-consecutive 24-hour feeding cycles showed sows making several visits to the feeder. Literature on conventional ESF indicated shorter daily feeder occupation. Daily feeder occupation per sow decreased over time (p<0.001).

The study observed maximum feeder activity in the hours following the start of each feeding cycle.

During the experiment, there was a relatively stable, quickly established, and maintained feeder order (W>0.80; p<0.001). This highly correlated with dominance rank (r(s)=0.80; p<0.001). High-ranking sows fed earlier and made as many - but longer - visits than low-ranking sows; thus, they occupied the feeder more time every day (p<0.01).

Although optimization of the feeder efficiency may take several weeks, Fitmix seems an efficient feeding system for medium-size, stable groups of sows, the researchers concluded.

Chapinal N., Ruiz-de-la-Torre J.L., Cerisuelo A., Baucells M.D., Gasa J. and Manteca X. Animal Nutrition, Management and Welfare Research Group, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain. 2008. Feeder use patterns in group-housed pregnant sows fed with an unprotected electronic sow feeder (Fitmix). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2008, 11(4): 319-336.

Further Reading

- You can view the full paper by clicking here.
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