Animal care took the spotlight at Banff Pork Seminar 2014 with one of the hot topics being sow housing.
To this topic, Dr. Jennifer Brown of the Prairie Swine Centre delivered some valuable perspective on what the science says regarding the question of "group or stalls."
Her bottom line messages were that:
1. There are both advantages and disadvantages to housing sows in stalls and groups
2. The main advantages of stalls relate to their ability to provide individual nutrition and care to sows, and the elimination of injuries associated with aggression at mixing
3. However, due to the restriction of sow activity in stalls, freedom of movement and the ability to perform a variety of behaviors are extremely limited
4. The advantages of group housing are that sows have the opportunity to perform a broader range of behaviors and thus receive more exercise, with a range of associated health benefits
5. The main drawbacks of group systems are the increased incidence of sow injuries related to mixing aggression and competition at feeding which can result in uneven feed distribution
6. Many of the concerns related to group housing (such as aggression and injury) can be resolved with good system design and stockmanship