Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Type: Thesis
Title: Improving the welfare and performance of the sow and piglet in confinement and reduced confinement farrowing and lactation housing
Author: Condous, Patricia Charlotte
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Abstract: Currently, the farrowing crate is the main form of housing for sows during farrowing and lactation, primarily due to its ability to reduce pre-weaning piglet mortality. However, the restrictive environment of the farrowing crate has led to welfare concerns for the sow as it limits the performance of nest building behaviour, which can lead to increased stress responses. Alternative housing systems that provide increased space can improve the welfare of the sow, but these systems commonly result in an increase in piglet mortality and/or are not viable in commercial pig production systems. Hence, a commercially viable housing system that meets sow behavioural and welfare needs while also reducing pre-weaning piglet mortality is of importance to pig producers. The aim of the research presented in this thesis was to investigate strategies to improve the welfare and performance of the sow and piglet in confinement and reduced confinement farrowing and lactation housing systems. Specifically, different periods of sow confinement and the use of nutritional supplements under confinement were investigated. A swing-side pen was used to investigate the effect of different periods of sow confinement. The swing-side pen could be opened to allow the sow enough space to turn around, or it could be closed to confine the sow similar to a farrowing crate. Reduced sow confinement prior to and during farrowing did not encourage the performance of nest building behaviour by sows, but it did allow increased interactions with piglets during farrowing and a reduced stereotypic behaviour in early lactation compared to sows housed in a standard farrowing crate. However, reducing sow confinement during farrowing and early lactation increased live born piglet mortality compared to a standard crate. While reducing sow confinement did reduce still birth mortality in piglets and improve some aspects of piglet viability at birth, no other improvements in piglet performance were observed that could help outweigh the financial and welfare cost of the increase in live born piglet mortality. Further investigation then focused on the effect of housing during gestation and farrowing on piglet viability and survival born to first parity sows. It was expected that changing gilts from a loose housing system during gestation to a restrictive housing system during farrowing would negatively influence farrowing performance and piglet viability and survival compared to gilts that did not change confinement type from gestation to farrowing. There was no effect of the interaction between gestation and farrowing housing on piglet viability and survival. Confinement during farrowing did have an effect on individual piglet measures, with piglets from gilts that were loose housed taking less time to stand and to suck from a teat compared to piglets born from gilts that were confined. Lastly, it was investigated whether it was possible to improve the welfare of the sow housed in confinement by dietary supplementation with tryptophan. Previously, tryptophan has been shown to reduce cortisol concentration and aggressive behaviours in pigs when exposed to a mixing stressor. Supplemental tryptophan was added to the diet of sows housed in a standard farrowing crate from entry into farrowing accommodation (day 107 – 109 of gestation) until three days post-partum. The supplemental tryptophan (12g of L-tryptophan /day) was provided as a top dressing at each feed (5g of L-tryptophan /kg of feed). Providing supplemental dietary tryptophan to sows tended to reduce the performance of stereotypic behaviour, but did not affect any other measures of sow behaviour or plasma cortisol prior to and during farrowing. In early lactation there was trend for sows fed a diet with supplemental tryptophan to display more calm behaviours and have a lower plasma cortisol concentration. In summary, the findings presented in this thesis demonstrate that confining the sow for only the first seven days of lactation and then reducing confinement until weaning in a swing-side pen can achieve similar live born piglet survival compared to sows that are confined in a farrowing crate until weaning for 26 days. Alternatively, if the sow needs to remain confined prior to and during farrowing, supplementing tryptophan in the feed can reduce measures of stress in the sow.
Advisor: Tilbrook, Alan
Van Wettere, William
Plush, Kate
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, 2020
Keywords: Pig
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Condous2020_PhD.pdfThesis1.34 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.