Sow and Litter Performance for Individual Crate and Group Hoop Barn Gestation Housing Systems: Project Summary
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Effects of gestation housing systems on sow and litter performance were evaluated for 2.5 yr at the ISU Lauren Christian Swine Research Farm, Atlantic, Iowa. Gestation housing system treatments were 1) individual gestation stalls in a mechanically ventilated confinement building with a partially slatted floor and a manure flush system; and 2) group pens with individual feed stalls in deep-bedded, naturally ventilated hoop barns. The confinement facility was more than 15 yr old and had been updated in the late 1990s. The two gestation hoop barns were built at the same time as the confinement facility was remodeled.
This is a final project summary. In all, 957 litters from 353 sows were analyzed using mixed models. The number of pigs born alive per litter differed for the two housing treatments (P = 0.002), with gestation in hoop barns resulting in more pigs born alive per litter. Prewean mortality was not different for the two housing treatments (P = 0.70). Cross-fostering was done to equalize litter size within 24 h of birth, which resulted in an equal number of weaned pigs per sow (P = 0.50) regardless of gestation housing treatment. Wean-to-breed interval was different (P = 0.01) with sows kept in stalls returning to estrus sooner (4.3±0.6 d) than sows gestated in hoop barns (6.0±0.6 d). Results indicate that gestating sows can be housed as groups in deep-bedded hoop barns equipped with individual feeding stalls and that their performance is comparable to gestating sows housed in systems with individual gestation stalls.