Minimizing Aggression in Sows Requires Holistic Approach

CANADA - The Manager of Quality Assurance and Animal Care Programs with Manitoba Pork says minimizing aggression in group housing requires a holistic approach, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 19 January 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Canada's revised Pig Code of Practice mandates the conversion of sow housing to some form of group housing or loose housing by 2024.

Mark Fynn, the Manager of Quality Assurance and Animal Care Programs with Manitoba Pork, told those attending the Banff Pork Seminar last week a combination of factors will influence the risk of aggression in these systems.

Mark Fynn-Manitoba Pork:

Minimizing aggression, you really have to take a holistic approach to it.

A lot of it involves good pen layout, making sure there's space between features within the pen so that animals can escape if they don't want to be involved in the aggressive encounters, having the right flooring in place so if there are any aggressive encounters no injuries result because of that.

Then having good mixing practices and having a good group setup so that we don't encourage the sows to be aggressive to one another longer than they have to to set up that initial hierarchy.

We do talk about aggression a fair amount when we deal with these pens but we're really for the most part only dealing with aggression for social hierarchy in the first one to three days that pigs are mixed together and it's not the whole pen that are fighting.

There'll be select sows that are fighting for those positions.

We do talk about it a lot and I think we do build up a little bit of fear in producer's eyes but a lot of times, when producers go and see barns, they there's less aggression than we initially thought.

That's when the barns are following best management practices.

You need to make sure that you're mixing the right animals together at the right time and that you're not expecting them to reset up their social hierarchy over and over again in the same gestation.

If we put them in there at the wrong time with the wrong animals there's a lot of potential to have an impact on welfare and then impact production because of it.

For more information on the move to group sow housing visit

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