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Avoiding Landmines Converting to Loose Sow Housing

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on July 3, 2018

Author: Mark Fynn

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017


Considerations when converting barns to loose sow housing:

1. Slatted flooring: Slatted flooring posses challenges to gilts and sows, especially in groups. As a result, it is suggested to use bedded flooring or partially slatted flooring. Research has demonstrated that when utilizing slatted flooring there are ideal sizes for the gap: between 0.75-1 inch. As smaller than 0.75 has negative implications for drainage and greater than 1 inch affects foot health.

2. Clean(er) pens: Loose sow housing can be an issue because pens are chronically dirty. To overcome this in partially slatted barns make specific areas more comfortable for resting as they will not defecate there.  This can be done by having solid flooring or bedding, keeping the area dry, reducing draft, and having walls for them to rest against.

3. Escape Features: Submissive sows need to be given the opportunity to escape from aggressive sows as some aggression is unavoidable. In a mixed parity group space allowance should be at least 19 feet per animal. Partitions allow the sows to escape, as well as passageways that create circular traffic flow. Tight spaces should also be reduced, as they hinder a submissive sows ability to escape.

4. Space: All walls an obstacles should have at least 10 feet between them to allow a sow to escape from another sow. Passageways should be at least 8 feet wide, although 10 feet is still recommended.

5. Best Management Practices:

  • Sow mixing should occur at a time that is not critical to embryo implantation (7-28 days post breeding, after breeding and heat, or around 28 to 35 days post-breeding).
  • Keeping sows in stable (static) groups, dynamic can occur however with more oversight and management strategies
  • Sorting animals into size and parity when possible
  • Consideration of pen condition

6. Preventing feeding time competition: Use of ESF or free-access ESF can reduce competition. Ensure optimal space at entry of ESF.

Avoiding Landmines Converting

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