Article

Effect of alternative farrowing pens with temporary crating on the performance of lactating sows and their litters

Si Nae Cheon1,2, So Hee Jeong1, Guem Zoo Yoo1,3, Se Jin Lim1, Chan Ho Kim1, Gul Won Jang1, Jung Hwan Jeon1,*
Author Information & Copyright
1National Institute of Animal Science, Wanju 55365, Korea.
2Gyeongsang National University, Jinju 52828, Korea.
3Jeonbuk National University, Jeonju 54896, Korea.
*Corresponding Author: Jung Hwan Jeon, National Institute of Animal Science, Wanju 55365, Korea, Republic of. Phone: 82-63-238-7051. E-mail: jeon75@korea.kr.

© Copyright 2022 Korean Society of Animal Science and Technology. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Mar 23, 2022; Revised: Apr 29, 2022; Accepted: May 09, 2022

Published Online: May 10, 2022

Abstract

This study was conducted to investigate the effect of alternative farrowing pens (AFPs) with temporary crating on the performance and behavior of lactating sows and their litters. A total of 64 multiparous sows were randomly divided into two groups and were allocated to farrowing crates (FCs) and AFPs. AFPs contained a crate and support bars that could be folded to provide the sows with extra space on day 5 postpartum. Behavior was recorded by charge-coupled device cameras and digital video recorders, and the data were scanned every 2 min to obtain an instantaneous behavioral sample. Farrowing systems did not affect feed intake, back-fat thickness, weaning-to-estrus interval, piglet birth weight, or piglet weaning weight (p > 0.05). In addition, there were no differences in the number of crushed piglets between the two farrowing systems (p > 0.05). The sows spent most of their time lying down during the lactating period, at about 80% lateral recumbency and 10–15% ventral recumbency. The only significant differences were in the feeding and drinking behavior between sows in the two farrowing systems (p < 0.05). FC sows displayed more feeding and drinking behavior than AFP sows, especially in the late lactating period (p < 0.05). Piglets in FCs tended to spend more time walking than piglets in AFPs (p < 0.05), whereas there were no differences in suckling and lying behavior between piglets in the two farrowing systems (p > 0.05). It is thus concluded that AFPs did not negatively affect the performance and behavior of lactating sows and their litters compared to FCs. The AFPs also seem to be a feasible alternative farrowing system for commercial farms. However, more detailed research is needed to find suitable housing designs to maximize productivity and animal welfare.

Keywords: Alternative farrowing pen; Animal welfare; Lactating sows; Piglets; Temporary crating