Sow and Litter Performance for Individual Crate and Group Hoop Barn Gestation Housing Systems: A Progress Report
The effects of swine gestation housing on sow and litter performance were evaluated at the Iowa State University Lauren Christian Swine Research and Demonstration Farm near Atlantic, IA. The gestation housing systems were 1) individual gestation crates in a mechanically ventilated, partially slatted floor, manure flush confinement building (CRATE); and 2) group pens in deep-bedded, naturally ventilated hoop structures (HOOP). The HOOP sows were fed with individual feed stalls.
The sows were artificially inseminated in a confinement breeding barn with slatted floors and were later moved to their assigned gestation housing treatment. Sows continued in the same gestation housing their entire time at the farm. All first-litter gilts were gestated in individual gestation crates to minimize sow size differential in the groups. There were 35 sows per group in the HOOP barns. Farrowing occurred every 2 weeks on a year-round basis. All sows were fed 4.5 lb/day and increased to 6 lb/day during the last trimester of gestation. During the winter HOOP sows were fed 25% more and CRATE sows were fed 5% more.
Reproductive performance was summarized for 433 litters during the period March 2001 through September 2002. This is a progress report of a continuing study. Preliminary trends were a shorter wean-to-breed interval, fewer still born and mummified pigs (combined), one more live pig born per litter, two more pigs weaned/sow/year, and much lower sow culling and mortality rates for HOOP sows compared to CRATE sows. The preliminary data suggest that gestating sows can be successfully housed in deepbedded hoop barns equipped with individual feeding stalls.