|Title||Developing a group housing system for lactating sows and their litters|
|Author(s)||Nieuwamerongen, S.E. van; Bolhuis, J.E.; Soede, N.M.; Peet-Schwering, C.M.C. van der|
|Source||In: Proceedings of the International conference on pig welfare - Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward?. - Copenhagen, Denmark : Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark - p. 139 - 139.|
|Event||Copenhagen, Denmark : Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark International conference on pig welfare: Improving pig welfare - what are the ways forward?, Copenhagen, 2015-04-29/2015-04-30|
LR - Animal Nutrition
|Publication type||Abstract in scientific journal or proceedings|
Group housing of gestating sows has become mandatory in the EU due to welfare concerns about individually confined sows. During lactation, however, most sows are housed in farrowing crates. A multi-suckling (MS) system provides a larger and more complex environment with more possibilities to express natural behaviours. By housing several sows together with their litters, MS-systems can enhance piglet social development and have the potential to stimulate socially facilitated eating behaviour. MS-systems, however, also pose risks including disrupted nursing behaviour and increased piglet mortality. Thus, MS-systems can provide both advantages and disadvantages for sow and piglet welfare. In the Netherlands, a new MS-system for five sows and their litters has been developed, in which sows can move freely and piglets can enter the communal area after 1 week of age. The system includes a communal floor-feeding area where piglets can learn to eat from the sows. MS-raised piglets showed indicators of improved pre- and post-weaning development. Pre-weaning mortality, particularly before mixing litters, was however an issue that needed attention. In a new version of the system, this issue will be addressed. In addition, in future experiments we will investigate performance of sows and piglets during a 9-week lactation period in which a more gradual weaning process is stimulated using intermittent-suckling.