A Comparison of Alternative Winter Farrowing Systems
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The purpose of this demonstration was to compare two alternative winter farrowing systems that meet niche pork production criteria. The demonstration was conducted at the ISU Armstrong Research Farm, Lewis, IA, and the ISU Allee Demonstration Farm, Newell, IA. A group of 18 second parity gestating sows from the Allee Farm were randomly divided into two groups of nine sows. One group was farrowed during January 2007 at each farm. Each group farrowing was completed in 5 to 6 days. One farm had swing-side farrowing pens and the other farm had farrowing huts, all in bedded, heated rooms.
The two systems had virtually identical performance results. For both systems the average number of pigs born alive was 13 pigs per litter with an average birth weight of 3.8 lb per pig. Weaning occurred at 44.9 days of age with 10.2 pigs per litter weighing an average of 34.2 lb each. The pre-wean mortality was 21.8%. Although this is high, it is approximately 1/4 less than the pre-wean mortality recorded during our earlier demonstration of the bedded Swedish free-stall farrowing system. The larger number of pigs born live and the lower pre-wean mortality resulted in 10.2 pigs weaned per litter in this demonstration compared with 8.1 pigs per litter in the Swedish cubicle system. This is about a 26% improvement. Again, the bedded group lactation worked well with few mortalities and good pig growth. Overall about 80% of the piglet mortalities occurred on day 1. The swing-side pens had fewer losses on day 1, but more losses later.