Page 4 - Australian Pork Newspaper
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Dr Kim Bunter, Dr Dorian Garrick and Dr Matthew Culbertson headlined an excel- lent symposium on pig genetics at APSA 2017.
☛ from P3
have reduced the confine-
ment of gestating sows by moving to group housing. About 82 percent have made the transition,
which reduces sow con- finement by roughly 78 percent, and we should be proud of this.
However, pressure from animal welfare organisa- tions and others remains on reducing confinement during farrowing and lac- tation.
SPP test
Pork CRC has invested considerable research funds and effort in the area.
Unlike gestating sows, there are three factors to be considered in viewing outcomes from research.
These are the impact on the sow, impact on the piglet and impact on the producer – the SPP test.
For the various farrow- ing/lactation pens inves- tigated (such as swing- sided pens and PigSAFE pens) the impact on sow welfare, if allowed to far- row open, is questionable, but might be positive.
The impact on the piglet is generally quite negative and reflected in increased mortality if sows are al- lowed to farrow open or the pen is open before day seven.
used in the study and for the group treatment, with sows and litters housed in groups of three.
There were 49 replicates for each treatment.
Details and photos of the group pens are in the final report, which is on our website.
Bottom line was sow welfare was reduced in the group treatment due to aggression resulting in more injuries compared to the farrowing crate.
A similar situation exist- ed for piglets grouped dur- ing lactation, though this reversed following wean- ing when scratches and in- jury scores were higher at day seven post-weaning for piglets weaned from far- rowing crates.
Piglet mortality and removals (due largely to ill thrift) was higher for those grouped in lacta- tion, while weaning weight was also signifi- cantly reduced and the difference persisted to day 30 post-weaning.
The latter effects are shown in Table 1.
Subsequent reproduc- tion was not affected by treatment.
Group grapplings
The second study (Pork CRC Project 1A-113) was conducted by Dr Jean-Loup Rault and col- leagues from Melbourne University and Dr Re- becca Morrison and her colleagues from Rivalea Australia.
Sows and their litters were moved from farrow- ing crates to group pens at seven, 10 and 14 days after birth.
Sows and their litters
were housed in groups of five or seven and provided 7-8sq m of space/sow.
Pens were fitted with creep areas and had saw- dust bedding.
Details and photographs are also in the final report on our website.
Pigs in all treatments were weaned at 26 days.
Outcomes were similar to those reported by Da- vid Lines.
Sow aggression in group pens increased with time after grouping and resulted in higher in- jury scores.
The same situation ex- isted for piglets in group pens and this was re- versed after weaning.
In group pens there was higher piglet mortality in the Rivalea study, and the seven-day treatment had to be abandoned and movement to pens was in- creased to 10 days for this treatment.
Averaged between day six and weaning, piglet mortality was 17 percent, 12 percent and 8 percent for the seven, 10 and 14- day group treatments, re- spectively.
For the farrowing crates, the corresponding mor- tality was 3 percent.
As with the results re- ported by David Lines, piglet performance was also reduced by group lactation.
Effects of the different treatments on weaning weight are shown in Ta- ble 2.
The lactation treatment had no significant effect on post-weaning growth performance or mortality.
Similarly, the lactation
treatment had no signifi- cant effect on subsequent reproduction.
Almost all indicators of stress, including cortisol, were increased in sows and piglets by group lac- tation.
When the SPP test is ap- plied, it appears moving sows and piglets to group housing during lactation adversely affects the wel- fare of sows and piglets.
For the producer group, penning may be a lower- cost alternative but re- quires considerable space and, on the evidence to date, has few, if any, pro- duction advantages.
We know the ‘problems’ reported in both studies are less if sows and lit- ters are moved to group housing at 21 days, but there may be reproductive advantages, which are being investigated at the moment.
Moving sows and litters from crates to groups at day 21, however, has little effect on reducing con- finement.
Outcomes are also like- ly to be affected by the design of the group hous- ing pens, which is indi- cated by the difference in mortality between the two studies reported here.
Research continues on alternative farrowing sys- tems, but we are concen- trating more on defining and improving the wel- fare of sows and piglets in conventional farrowing and lactation systems.
Once again, have a happy and safe Christmas and best wishes from all at Pork CRC.
Pork CRC chairman Dennis Mutton had a front-row seat at Pork CRC’s 2017 Stakeholders’ Day in Melbourne.
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and industry.
As an alternative, we’ve
investigated reducing confinement by moving sows and their litters from farrowing crates (and Pig- SAFE pens) into group pens at different stages of lactation.
Penning lines
The results of two stud- ies have been reported recently.
The first (Pork CRC Project 1B-105) was con- ducted by Dr David Lines and colleagues at Sun- Pork South Australia.
Sows and their litters were either moved to group pens at 13 days be- fore weaning or remained in farrowing crates though to weaning at 28 days.
Only gilt litters were
Day (relative to weaning
-14 -12 -1 1 7 14
4.23 ± 0.08
4.74 ± 0.02
7.17 ± 0.08
7.28 ± 0.09
8.29 ± 0.11
10.2 ± 0.39
18.57 ± 0.55
4.23 ± 0.06
4.56 ± 0.01
6.61 ± 0.05
6.78 ± 0.06
7.88 ± 0.07
9.89 ± 0.21
17.8 ± 0.31
Page 4 – Australian Pork Newspaper, December 2017
Meaningful Melbourne marathon matters
Table 1: Pre-weaning and post-weaning weight (kg) of piglets from sows housed individually or in groups from 13 days prior to weaning LSM±SEM.
Weaning weight (kg)
6.98 5.92
GL10 GL14 P
Table 2: Effects of moving sows and litters from farrowing crates to groups at seven, 10 or 14 days on piglet weight at weaning at 26 days.
6.35 6.26

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