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New Research Gives Insight into Effects of Stocking Density on Nursery Pig Performance

26 September 2016, at 12:00am

CANADA - Research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Pork is providing regulators insight into the effect of space allowance on the health and welfare of newly weaned nursery pigs, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of research being conducted in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc scientists with the Prairie Swine Centre, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and Newcastle University are evaluating the effects of stocking density on the health and welfare and growth rates of newly weaned nursery pigs.

The study is looking at smaller groups of 10 pigs and larger groups of 40 pigs to assess the effects of stress over six different space allowances on performance, on their ability to cope with disease challenges and on behaviour in both controlled settings at the Prairie Swine Centre and in commercial settings.

Dr Yolande Seddon, an Assistant Professor of Swine Behaviour and Welfare in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences with the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says the study was prompted by changes in space allowance requirements under Canada's updated Pig Code of Practice.

Dr Yolande Seddon-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

We just have very preliminary data so far and this is from the Prairie Swine Centre trials.

Overall, looking at the growth rates of the pigs, there have been no real differences in the growth rate across the different density treatments.

Rather we have had some influences of season on the growth rate.

I think what might be most important is what the behaviour of the pigs are doing and also looking more in depth of how the immune response might be influenced by these stocking densities.

But, interesting enough, so far we haven't seen any influence of the different space allowances on the average daily gain on the pigs in the nursery phase.

Dr Seddon says information gathered through the study will be used by the Code of Practice Committee to set requirements for how producers could provide for their pigs in the nursery phase.
Full results are expected by the end of 2017.

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