Prairie Swine Centre

 Industry Partners


Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan


Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:



Determining Effective Enrichments for Group Housed Sows

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production by student on June 11, 2018 | No Comments

Modern production practices place limitation on pig’s ability to partake in highly motivated behaviors such as rooting and exploring. Enrichment allows changes to occur that are intended to increase the range of normal behaviors ultimately improving the biological functioning and well-being of the animal. In Canada, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of pigs requires the provision of enrichment. When looking at slatted concrete pens there is a lack of effective environmental enrichment options for sows. In this study it was concluded that when enrichment was rotated (Rotation and Stimulus treatments) sows spent more time near enrichments and were more active than when Constant enrichment or Control treatments were provided. Based on this initial analysis the sound stimulus appeared to have no significant effect. Although the straw enrichment produced the greatest response, sows also made use of rope and wood on chain enrichments, and no adverse effects were found for sows or manure management indicating their suitability as enrichment materials for group-housed sows.

Determining Effective Enrichments for Group Housed Sows – 2017

Practical Alternatives for Managing Castration Pain in Piglets

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Castration is a procedure completed on male piglets to prevent the development of boar taint, which is an unpleasant smell and odor in pork from males. There are a couple objectives outlined in this experiment, to identify which analgesics will provide optimal pain relief to piglets, at what age castration should be performed to minimize stress and production losses in piglets, determine if the timing of drug administration affects piglets’ pain responses following castration and whether provision of oral sucrose prior to an analgesic can provide measurable benefits to pigs during the initial pain of castration. Behavioral observations were used to determine pain in castrated piglets. The effectiveness of the different analgesics was determined by the piglet’s ability to navigate a chute unaided. A decreased sensation of pain felt by the piglets corresponded to the piglet’s more quickly navigating the chute. This experiment determined that of the three analgesics used, meloxicam, ketoprofen and paracetamol, ketoprofen displayed the most positive effects. This conclusion was made due to the quicker response time for the piglets when navigating the chute. However, when comparing castrated piglets to those who had sham castrations there was no significant difference in chute navigation time.  There is no definite cause for this; however it is believed to be a result of handling stress or an additional environmental stress.

Practical Alternatives for Managing Castration Pain in Piglets – 2017

Cleaning Ease and Animal Welfare Implications of Trailer Design

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When effectively mitigating the transmission of disease in the swine industry it is vital that farms maintain a thorough biosecurity protocol. However, even the best maintain protocols have gaps, especially when it comes to transportation. The aim of this study was to develop a list of commonly used trailers to transport market hogs in Canada which were ranked on their cleaning ease and animal handling and welfare characteristics. Commonly used trailers in Canada include: a double deck potbelly trailer with a belly rail installed between the pot and top deck, straight deck trailers, quad deck trailers and the newly introduced Pezzaioli trailer. Pot belly trailers are currently the most commonly used trailer in Canada due to their versatility, high load capacity and relatively light weight. However, these trailers pose the most strain during animal handling and are the most difficult to clean. There are alternative designs that are easier to clean and provide better animal handling characteristics, but these designs are less versatile, heavier and have a reduced load capacity.

Cleaning Ease and Animal Welfare Implications of Trailer Design – 2017

Influence of Sow Lactation Feeding System on Sow and Piglet Performance

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Electronic Feeding Systems (EFS) have many advantages when comparing them to manual feeding options, including collection of feed intake data, delivery of fresh feed and reducing feed wastage. This study looked at the implications of a modified feeding system on the performance of the sow and piglet during lactation. Being as feed costs are the largest expense that producers face, generally between 50-70% of the total cost of production, it is important to consider ways in which these costs can be reduced. When comparing manual feeding to both an EFS and a modified feeding system this study determined that all three systems resulted in similar performance from the sow and piglet. However, when looking at feed disappearance it was evident that both the ESF and the modified feeding system had reduced feed intake compared to that of the manual feeding system. The ESF and modified feeding system reduced feed disappearance on average by 19.7%. Through the use of economic analysis it was determined that by implementing one of these systems producers would save $8.50/sow/lactation. This study did not consider the cost of maintenance during the economic analysis.

Influence of Sow Lactation Feeding System on Sow and Piglet Performance – 2017

Spray Dried Bovine Plasma for DON Contaminated Nursery Diets

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Spray Dried Porcine Plasma has been effectively shown to mitigate the effects of the mycotoxin DON, however due to its association with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PED) producers have discontinued its use. This study evaluated the effect of Spray Dried Bovine Plasma (SDBP) and DON when included in the diet on feed intake, growth performance and gut health within newly weaned pigs. This experiment resulted in contradictory findings to that of previous studies indicating that further research is required. However, this study did display that DON is responsible for detrimental effects on ADFI and to a lesser extent on ADG. When combined with DON, SDBP was determined to have a beneficial effect on ADFI but did not affect ADG.

Spray Dried Bovine Plasma for DON Contaminated Nursery Diets – 2017

Reducing Energy Use in Group Sow Housing Systems

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Traditionally, sow housing systems are maintained at the Lower Critical Limit (LCT) of approximately 16.5°C, dropping below this can have significant effects on the productivity and health status of the sow. This experiment studied the interaction between group housing, high heat-increment diets, and the sows ability to control temperature to potentially reduce energy usage in production. Group housing allows for some thermoregulation by the sow, thus allowing them to be housed in temperatures lower than the LCT. An operant mechanism was developed for this experiment that allowed the sows to control their own temperature by a manual control switch. Within this experiment sows were fed two diets, one with a high heat increment and a standard gestation diet. When looking at the sows fed the high heat increment diet they maintain a lower temperature in both a chamber (experimental room) and in an actual gestation room. In the chamber they maintained a temperature of around 11.9°C and in the gestation room a temperature as low as 8°C. In addition to maintaining a lower temperature, within the sow controlled room (as opposed to a preset room), a lower CO2 concentration was observed demonstrating a better air quality. Allowing sows to control their own temperature resulted in around 75% less natural gas consumption and 11% less electricity consumption. This decrease in consumption could translate into as much as a 59% decrease in the overall cost of heating and electricity.

Reducing Energy Use in Group Sow Housing Systems – 2017

Ventilation System Requirements for Conversion to Group Sow Housing

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When converting to group housing for sows if remodeling of the previous ventilation systems does not occur, it is estimated that over-ventilating will occur at a rate of 30%. This will raise the heating energy consumption by 75% in the winter. Carefully redesigning the ventilation system will aid in ensuring optimal pig health as well as reducing energy costs. Through the use of computer stimulation it was determined that utilizing a horizontal flow ventilation system (having the air inlets located opposite to the exhaust fans) resulted in the air being most effectively homogeneously mixed. Utilizing the horizontal flow ventilation system (HFVS) an in-barn evaluation was carried out to determine the ventilation effectiveness on temperature and HRE (heat removal effectiveness), air quality, sow condition and performance, and the behavior of the sow. When comparing the remodeled ventilation system to the unmodified system it is apparent that the modified system more effective at removing heat and contaminants (such as CO2) from the room. In the room equipped with the HFVS the sows displayed a higher level of comfort and were overall less aggressive towards other sows. The in barn evaluation determined that when comparing a converted room with an unmodified ventilation system to group housing with a HFVS that the HFVS resulted in a 21% reduction in natural gas consumption and a 14% reduction in electricity consumption.

Ventilation System Requirements for Conversion to Group Sow Housing – 2017

National Sow Housing Conversion Project

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by Ken Engele on May 1, 2018 | No Comments

The National Sow Housing Conversion Project (NSHCP) is a descriptive project intended to facilitate the successful conversion of Canada’s sow barns to group housing. The project involves collaboration from industry participants and academic researchers across Canada working together on a comprehensive strategy involving demonstration farms and technology transfer materials and events to support Canadian pork producers. This report describes progress up to year 3 of this 4 year project. The project is a collaboration between the University of Manitoba,  Manitoba Pork Council, CDPQ and the Prairie Swine Centre. The full project will collect detailed information on fourteen barn sites across the country that have implemented group sow housing. The information collected is in the form of questionnaires, interviews, photos, videos, barn layous and production and economic data. The results are being made available to producers through producer meetings and presentations, newsletters, and a comprehensive
website: www.groupsowhousing.com.

NSHCP

Determining Effective Enrichments for Group Housed Sows

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by Ken Engele on | No Comments

It was concluded that when enrichment was rotated (Rotation and Stimulus treatments) sows spent more time near enrichments and were more active than when Constant enrichment or Control treatments were provided. Based on this initial analysis the sound stimulus appeared to have no significant effect. Although the straw enrichment produced the greatest response, sows also made use of rope and wood on chain enrichments, and no adverse effects were found for sows or manure management indicating their suitability as enrichment materials for group-housed sows.

Determining Effective Enrichments Group Housed Sows

Practical Alternatives for Managing Castration Pain in Piglets

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by Ken Engele on | No Comments

The objective of this project was to identify which analgesics will provide optimal pain relief to piglets; at what age castration should be performed to minimize stress and production losses in piglets; determine if the timing of drug administration affects piglets’ pain responses following castration and whether provision of oral sucrose prior to an analgesic can provide measureable benefits to pigs during the initial pain of castration. The first study evaluated the effectiveness of three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) on post-castration pain. The second  compared the influence of age at castration (3 days vs 10 days) on piglet welfare. Initial behavioural results from these two experiments found no significant differences in chute navigation times among the treatments studied. In study 2, the expected differences between sham handled and castrated piglets were not found, and no benefits of drug treatment were observed even though drugs were administered 15 minutes prior to testing.

Practical Alternatives for Managing Castration Pain

 
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