24 May 2002

Give them some privacy

SOMETIMES pigs just want to be alone and providing sows with the chance to get away from their herdmates has led to extra piglets born alive.

Lecturer, Alan Stewart explained that a study at Harper Adams University College, Shrops, sows lower in the hierarchy produced an extra 2.19 pigs when given free-access to individual feeder stalls.

Top hierarchy sows also benefited, producing an extra 1.42 pigs (see table). Sows were housed in groups of 5-8, with 82 used for the study.

"Space allowances were well above recommended rates without the space in feeders. But at the bottom of the hierarchy 34% choose to lie in the feeders. And when they were denied access to feed stalls, 18% lay in the dunging area or they were being forced to lie with penmates which they may not like.

"To maximise pigs/litter a choice of lying area for pregnant sows, whether its individual feeders, or another alternative within different housing systems, could improve performance," added Mr Stewart. &#42

Sows appear to like a choice of lying area, says Alan Stewart.

Access to feeders Restricted access

Hierarchy positions Top Bottom Top Bottom

Lying in lying area 84% 56% 85% 81%

Lying in dung 2% 10% 15% 18%

Lying in feeders 14% 34% 0% 1%

Pigs born 13.95 13.47 12.53 11.28