Effect of Housing System and Physical Environment on Post-Weaning Pig Performance
A study was conducted to document the physical environment and growth performance of nursery pigs in hoop structures compared with pigs reared in confinement nurseries. A series of six trials involving a total of 1,440 nursery pigs were conducted at two Iowa State University research farms from December 1999 to August 2000. Regardless of season, the confinement pigs grew faster and consumed more feed than pigs in hoop structures for the first 2 weeks post-weaning. Both housing systems experienced similar growth rates for the last 3 weeks of the trial. Both housing systems experienced similar ADFI and feed efficiencies for weeks 4 and 5. Overall, the confinement pigs grew faster, consumed more feed and were less efficient than pigs in hoop structures (P<.05) during the winter season. Overall the confinement pigs grew faster (P<.05), consumed more feed (P<.05), and experienced similar feed efficiencies as the pigs in hoop structures during the spring season. Overall, the confinement pigs experienced growth rates, consumed more feed and were less efficient than pigs in hoop structures (P<.05) Hoop structures can be used as nursery facilities throughout the various seasons. The first 2 weeks postweaning proved to be a very critical time in getting the pigs acclimated to the hoop structures. After this period, they experienced growth rates similar to the pigs in confinement. Further trials with adjustments made for the bedding, heat source, hovers, feeders, and management may improve the growth performance over that seen in these trials.