Improve sow foot health with rubberised flooring

Lab scale research suggests the foot health of loose housed gestating sows can be better maintained by covering concrete floors with rubberised coatings
calendar icon 26 November 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

As part of lab scale research conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, scientists evaluated the ability of concrete floor coverings to reduce foot injuries among loose housed gestating sows.

Dr Qiang Zhang, a professor in Biosystems Engineering with the University of Manitoba, says scientists compared three commercially available rubber mats and two applied products made from recycled rubber.

Dr Zhang explains:

“There's a whole bunch of mechanical properties affecting pig behaviour and their foot health.

“We have to conduct quite a few tests to actually evaluate different floor mats. Specifically we had to test the hardness and the surface friction of floor mats, and we had to look at the wear resistance when used in the pig barn.

“The flooring has to be durable. Pigs are so curious and if it's not durable they will eat through it.

“The other thing we have to look at is the ease of cleaning. If we put a mat into the pig barn we have to keep it clean and make sure the manure can be washed off easily.

“We have done a lot of testing in the lab to evaluate all those properties of different floor mats. The mat actually has advantages in terms of hardness – it’s softer and also the friction is a little higher but it's at the same level.

“Other factors like ease of cleaning and wear is similar to other flooring material so, based on that, we can see if we put the mats on the floor it'll benefit foot health but wouldn't cause other problems.”

Dr Zhang says the next step will be to test these materials in the barn to see if their properties change over time and to evaluate their durability further.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.Ca

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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