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The Effects of Gilts Housed Either in Group with the Electronic Sow Feeding System or Conventional Stall

  • Jang, J.C. ;
  • Jung, S.W. ;
  • Jin, S.S. ;
  • Ohh, S.J. ;
  • Kim, J.E. ;
  • Kim, Y.Y.
  • Received : 2014.10.21
  • Accepted : 2015.04.30
  • Published : 2015.10.01

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to assess the welfare and productivity of gestating gilts in groups with the electronic sow feeding (ESF) system compared to conventional stalls. A total of 83 gilts ($Yorkshire{\times}Landrace$) were housed into individual stalls to be artificially inseminated. Gilts confirmed pregnant were introduced to their treatment, conventional stalls (ST) or groups with the ESF system. All gilts were taken to the farrowing crates one week prior to their expected farrowing date. In the gestation period, there were no significant differences between gilts allocated to ST and ESF on growth performance. However, backfat thickness gain (p = 0.08) and body condition score (BCS) at 110 days of gestation (p = 0.10) tended to be higher in ESF gilts than ST. Likewise, gilts housed in group showed significantly higher estimated body muscle contents at 110 days of gestation (p = 0.02) and body muscle change during gestation (p = 0.01). There was a trend for a shorter parturition time in ESF gilts (p = 0.07). In the lactation period, group housed gilts showed a tendency to increased BCS changes (p = 0.06). Reproductive performance did not differ with the exception of piglet mortality (ST = 0.2 no. of piglets vs ESF = 0.4 no. of piglets; p = 0.01). In blood profiles, ST gilts showed a higher cortisol level at 110 days of gestation (p = 0.01). Weaning to estrus interval was shorter in gilts housed in ESF than ST (p = 0.01). In locomotory behaviors, ESF gilts recorded a tendency to elevate locomotion score at 36, 70, and 110 days of gestation (p = 0.07, p = 0.06, and p = 0.06, respectively). Similarly, ESF gilts showed significantly higher incidence of scratches at 36, 70, and 110 days of gestation (p = 0.01). Moreover, farrowing rates were higher in stall treatment (97.6%) compare to group housing treatment (95.2%). In conclusion, while group housed gilts with ESF system positively affected welfare status in combination with less physiologically stressful environments and activity, it negatively effects piglet mortality, farrowing rates and injuries of gilts.

Keywords

Electronic Sow Feeding;Stall;Gilts;Gestation;Piglets;Group Housing

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Acknowledgement

Supported by : Rural Development Administration (RDA)