Increased Alley Width in Swine Barns Recommended

CANADA - A researcher with the Prairie Swine Centre is recommending increasing the alley width in modern swine barns to reduce stress and make the loading of near market pigs faster and easier, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 31 August 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon has completed a study which examined the impact of various alley widths when moving different sized groups of pigs on stress and on the amount of time required to move the animals.

Dr Harold Gonyou, a research scientist in animal behavior, says the standard 60 centimetre alley width, the width of two pigs 10 to 15 years ago when producers were marketing slightly smaller pigs, is no longer sufficient.

Dr Harold Gonyou-Prairie Swine Centre

Now 60 centimetres isn't wide enough for two pigs to walk down side by side.

They tend to have difficulty doing that so it becomes difficult to handle them in that narrow of a space so we looked at some wider alleys to see if they would move better.

We found that 90 centimetres was a good alley width.

We also went as high as 2.4 metres which is quite a wide alley but we were also looking at moving groups of up to 20 pigs in a group.

We looked at group size, just four pigs which is the standard recommendation.

It's recommended that, if you're moving pigs to load onto a truck, that you should move them in groups of four to six.

We looked at four, we looked at eight, 12 and 20 and looking at these wider alleys to see if they would still move fairly well in those alleys.

90 centimetres actually worked quite well with all the group sizes that we were working with.

You could move 20 pigs fairly effectively in an alley width of 90 centimetres.

You did have some trouble with blocking etcetera with the larger groups.

If you went to large groups such as 20 pigs moving at once we would probably recommend that you build for 1.2 metres wide in your alleyway so that they would continue to move well.

Dr Gonyou suggests, to reduce stress and speed up the movement of pigs we have to increase the recommendation from 60 centimetres to 90 centimetres or more.

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