Impact of Various Parity Groupings on Welfare and Productivity in ESF Housing
Electronic sow feeders (ESF) provide an automated system for controlling the individual feed intake of group-housed sows. However, this system can prompt increased aggression, especially in the initial period following mixing, as sows compete for access to the ESF. The primary objective of this research was to compare different methods for grouping sows and their effects on feeding behaviour, sow injury and production. Sows were housed in groups of mixed parity (control), or uniform groups of low (parities 1-2), medium (parities 3-4), and high parity (≥ parity 5). Of specific interest was whether low parity sows experience less aggression and injury during gestation when managed in uniform groups than in mixed groups, and what effects these treatments may have on production measures.