Determining Optimum Space Allowance for Nursery Pigs
Studies were conducted in 2 phases to determine the eff ects of six diff erent space allowances (k= 0.0230, 0.0265, 0.0300, 0.0335, 0.0370, and 0.0390) on nursery pig behavior, growth and welfare from 3 to 8 weeks of age. Phase 1 was a controlled trial conducted at Prairie Swine Centre (PSC) which explored the eff ects of housing piglets at the six space allowances in both large (40 pigs per pen) and small (10 pigs per pen) group sizes. Phase 2 used the same space allowances as tested in Phase 1, but studied pigs managed under commercial conditions in two production barns, one in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba. In Phase 2, pen size remained constant throughout the trial so the targeted k value for each treatment was achieved at nursery exit. Results from this study suggest that the minimum space requirement for nursery pigs indicated by the Canadian Code of practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs of k= 0.0335 provides a good balance between production costs and pig welfare. Housing nursery pigs at k= 0.0265 ( 20% below the recommended Code allowance) resulted in reductions in average daily weight gain on commercial farms, and postural changes indicating crowding (increased sitting and reduced lateral lying) in all studies.