Food Court Design for Large Group Auto-Sort for Grow-Finish Pigs
Costs can be improved by improving the ability to sort pigs within their pen. Since large groups are used for grow/finish pens, auto-sort scales are often used. Aggression in pigs is similar in both large and small group sizes, with larger groups becoming more tolerant with reduced aggression noted at mixing. Decreased rates of gain were noted initially when using auto-sort technology but this was mainly attributed to poor feed court design. Pigs often have difficulty learning the traffic flow pattern through the one-way gates and scale. Common problems in the food court are too few feeders or feeder spaces that are blocked by pigs lying in the food court or pig traffic. Two different food court designs were used to study productivity and behaviour of pigs. Fewer and longer meals were observed when using the large group auto-sort system compared to conventional pens. Some pigs had difficulty learning to leave and enter the food court. Better management practices of large group auto-sort systems should be implemented including sufficient room to move in the food court, adequate number of feeder spaces and training methods to facilitate the use of the auto-sort scale.