Dr. Ed Pajor - The Current Science On Group Housing of Sows


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The Current Science On Group Housing of Sows - Dr. Ed Pajor, University of Calgary, from the 2012 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, September 15-18, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

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  • The first study I will present investigated the provision of rubber flooring on measures of sow welfare. Rubber mats have been used successfully in the dairy industry, but to a lesser extent with swine. However, based on the literature that is available, we predicted rubber mats to be a successful enrichment for swine and this experiment could provide some valuable information from a behavior perspective at what a successful enrichment looked like prior to moving on to more complicated methods in later studies.
  • Barren concrete is the most common flooring substrate for swine. However, concrete has been associated with a high incidence of leg and hoof injuries. Additionally, lameness is ranked as the number 3 reason for why sows are culled from commercial herds. The high incidence of lameness and injury may be an indicator that the flooring comfort needs of swine are not being met on farms today. Straw bedding can increase flooring comfort, but is rarely used in the U.S. due to conflicts with liquid manure systems. Therefore, rubber mats offer a simple and inexpensive alternative to straw to increase flooring comfort for sows.
  • Breed = most common intensively housed breed of sows
  • Here is a schematic of the barn. As you can see, each replicate included four pens, two per treatment of either concrete or a rubber mat. Each pen housed four sows and was divided into a slatted concrete group area for exercise and dunging and a solid concrete feeding stalls. The matted treatment had the addition of a textured rubber mat in the stalls only. Health and behavior measures were collected to determine the impact of the mat on sow welfare.
  • First, I would like to set up this graph, as the remainder follow a similar format. On the x-axis are the two treatments, further divided into the group area of stall area of the pen. The Y-axis is the response variable, here percent of observations on a transformed scale. As you can see, flooring treatment affected the pen locations (group versus stall area) used by the sows for resting (including: lying, sitting and kneeling). Where sows housed on concrete spent significantly more of their resting time in the group area of the pen (66% of observations) compared to sows in matted pens (42%). While sows in matted pens, on the other hand, spent significantly more of their resting time in the stall area (49%) compared to sows in concrete pens (24%). (Graph: Time Budget = Log)
  • When we look at where sows are resting within the pen, we see that similar to the previous study, sows prefer to rest on mats. Additionally, there was no difference in mat use according to sow status. Therefore, mats appear to be a good enrichment that can be shared by group-housed sows.
  • Small =1.86 m2/sow (34 ft2) Medium = 2.60 m2/sow (28 ft2) Large = 3.16 m2/sow (20 ft2)
  • There was no difference in litter size between the pen sizes, but high ranking sows had smaller litters than low ranking sows. Pig weight was not different at processing, but was at weaning
  • Over a 24 hr period of time, fewer pigs in small alley pens used the alley than pigs with larger alleys. Also pigs with highest rank used the alley most with low ranking pigs using the alley the least. The standard error for all alley sizes was 3.9%
  • Sows with small alleys spent less time in the alley than sows in medium and large pens. Medium and large were not different from each other. High ranked sows spent more time in the pen than middle who spent more time in the pend than low. In addition, not shown, alley time differed by social rank also with highest ranking sows spending the most time in the alley and lowest ranking sows the least amount of time.
  • Now I would like to switch gears and discuss the theory and methodology used to determine sow motivation for enrichments in the remainder of the studies.
  • Pictured on the left is the operant panel used to test sow motivation. Within the green box is the panel the sow would root with her snout to gain access to enrichments. All presses were recorded on a computer and sows were video-taped continuously for behavioral data.
  • The first study to investigate the motivation of sows for enrichments was conducted within a social context with all enrichments – creating an amusement park for pigs. We first wanted to established that sows would work for access to the enrichments using the equipment and protocols that we designed, prior to separating out motivation for individual enrichments in later experiments.
  • Motivation measures did not differ due to sow status, were the Highest Price Paid and the latency to press the panel were not different for dominant or subordinate sows. (Graphs: Motivation = Square Root and Latency = Log)
  • In this last study we wanted to investigate sow motivation for the two remaining enrichments, which can promote foraging type behaviors and may provide opportunities for gut-fill. Many studies have shown that these two resources are preferred by swine and offer many welfare benefits.
  • Similar design to the previous study, where motivation for enrichments were compared against a positive and negative control.
  • We found that our measures yielded conflicting results. According to the motivation measures (highest price paid and latency to press the panel), compost was the enrichment valued by sows. While behavioral measures revealed that straw was the more valued enrichment. These findings highlight that there are still more kinks to work out with the use of Highest Price Paid as a tool to assess motivation for enrichments. These findings demonstrate that it is critically important to measure both motivation and behavior, as the combination can tell us WHAT animals choose and WHY they choose it and has rarely been done in previous studies. We have demonstrated that this technique tends to bias towards rewards that are immediate and is likely due to the phenomenon of delay discounting, where having to wait for access to a resource decreases its value at the choice point. Alternatively, it may be an issue of the operant technique, but that the sows themselves who are feed restricted in commercial conditions and until they have met their hunger needs, they will bias towards “food-like” rewards to obtain gutfill.
  • We have demonstrated that sows are motivated for enrichments in both stall and group settings. In particular, compost and straw are highly valued by sows as indicated by motivation tests and behavioral measures. Additionally, rubber mats worked well in groups, were preferred by sows and had many welfare benefits. These studies were some of the first to investigate sow motivation for enrichments, especially within a social context. These findings of are particular relevance to the swine industry, as alternatives to barren sow stalls are being explored. Additionally, many other animals industries, such as lab and zoo) are moving towards group housing and determining methods to provide enrichments in groups is of critical importance to improve animal welfare.
  • In the last few minutes, I would like to discuss our overall conclusions and future research directions.
  • Dr. Ed Pajor - The Current Science On Group Housing of Sows

    1. 1. The current science on group housing of sows Dr. Ed Pajor Professor of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Research Leader, Animal Pain and Welfare Group Department of Production Animal Health eapajor@ucalgary.ca Sept. 16 2012
    2. 2. Outline Science from my lab Preference and motivation test Preference for space Preference for flooring Motivation for housing features Free access systems and sow use Future direction in housing and other issues
    3. 3.  Animal Welfare Definition “Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour and is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter/killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal received is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.” OIE, 2008
    4. 4. Swine Welfare Issues Sow Housing Pain Management Euthanasia Animal Transportation and handling Validity of Assessment/Audit Programs
    5. 5. Sow Housing Gestation sow housing – immediate concern Farrowing Post-Breeding Issue is the same, individual housing, limited space, no enrichments.
    6. 6. Preference and Motivation 4 types of research questions Is an animal motivated to obtain or avoid a resource Does the animal have preferences amongst alternative resources How strong its motivation or preference is Is preference or motivation altered by changes in its internal or external environment
    7. 7. Limitations Motivation experiments very difficult to do Do preferences really matter in terms of animal welfare? What role does previous experience play in preferences?
    8. 8. The Influence of Previous Housing Experience and Social Rank onSow Preference for Different Types of Stall Housing LYNDSEY JONES
    9. 9.  Does previous experience influence the choice of the animal? Sows from standard gestation stalls Sows from large pens
    10. 10. Choice box Maze 2Choice Pen Stall point Empty stall Maze 1Choice point Centercorridor Slatted floor Pulley gate Alley to L stall
    11. 11. Choice box Maze 2Choice Pen Stall point Empty stall Maze 1Choice point Centercorridor Slatted floor Pulley gate Alley to L stall
    12. 12. Materials and Methods Monday – Habituation  Complete access (3 hr) Tuesday – Training Day  2 reps/ side (30 min) Wednesday – Session 1  2 reminder trials (15 min)  8 free trials (15 min) Thursday – Rest Day Friday – Session 2  8 free trials (15 min)
    13. 13. Group sows - Stall Type P = 0.02
    14. 14. Stall sows - Stall Type P < 0.001
    15. 15. Choice Conclusions Regardless of housing background, sows demonstrated a clear preference for the FA stall  access to space  freedom of movement and/or choice
    16. 16. A flooring comparison: The impact of rubber mats on the health, behavior, and welfare of group-housed sows at breedingM.R.P. Elmore 1 , J.P. Garner1, A.K. Johnson2, B.T. Richert1, E.A.Pajor11 Purdue University, Department of Animal Sciences2 Iowa State University, Department of Animal Sciences
    17. 17. Background Barren concrete is commonly used for swine  High incidence of leg and hoof injuries  Lameness ranked as #3 reason for culling sows  Indicator that flooring comfort needs not being metBuckner et al., 1998; Mouttotou et al., 1999; Boyle et al., 2000; Day et al., 2002; Tuyttens, 2005; Zurbrigg, 2006; USDA 2007
    18. 18. Objective and Hypothesis Objective: to determine the impact of rubber flooring on group-housed Yorkshire x Landrace sows at breeding (10 days) Hypothesis: the addition of rubber mats to feeding stalls in group pens would improve sow health, comfort and welfare
    19. 19. Materials and Methods Data Collected (n=16/treatment): • Lesions and Lameness • Resting behavior • Frequency of postural changes
    20. 20. Flooring PreferencesConcrete Pen Matted Pen
    21. 21. Sows Prefer to Rest in Stalls with Rubber Mats 100% * Other * Resting StandingPercent of Observations *P < 0.05 10% 1.0% 0.1% Group Area Stall Area Group Area Stall Area Concrete Pen Matted Pen
    22. 22. Sows Prefer Mats for Resting Sows rested more on the  Inactivity by pen area mat compared to all did not differ due to other pen areas (P < 0.05) sow status (P = 0.82) Key Area Area 3: Sow 2: 53% ± Rubber Mat 20% ± 8 Straw Hopper 7 Compost Trough Area 1: 8% Area Cotton Cord ± 2 4: Nipple Drinker 8% ± 2
    23. 23. The influence of gestational housing on the welfare, physiology, andproductivity of the sow and her piglets Laurie Mack Purdue University
    24. 24. ObjectivesInvestigate the effect of pen size in a free- access housing system on gestating sows’ Health Physiology Productivity Behavior Welfare
    25. 25. Treatments & housing 3.05 m (large) 2.13 m (medium) 0.9 m (small)Feed and water trough Feed and water trough Feed and water trough Movable Wall 7 free-access Shared group pen stalls/ pen
    26. 26. Productivity results Measure Pen sizeFarrowing rateWean to estrus, dPercentage rebredCull rateTotal litter sizeNumber livebornLitter wt, processLitter wt, weanPiglet mortality
    27. 27. Percentage of pigs using penPen size (P = 0.06)  small (58.9%) < large (72.8%) (P = 0.052)  medium (67.5% ± 3.9)Rank (P < 0.0001)  all different  low (47.0%)  middle (66.6%)  high (85.6%)
    28. 28. Time in pen: small < med & large 100.00 pen size P < 0.0001 90.00 wk P < 0.0001 80.00 large 70.00 60.00 med % 50.00 40.00 small 30.00 20.00 10.00 0.00 1 3 5 7 9 Treatment week
    29. 29. Free-access housing conclusions Unlike space restriction in other group housing systems group space size has very little impact on health, productivity, or physiology of gestating sows However sows with a 0.9 m alley show restricted natural behavior and social interactions High ranking sows use space more
    31. 31. Measuring Sow Motivation
    32. 32. Getting around social status: Motivation and enrichment use of dominant and subordinate sows in a group settingM.R.P. Elmore 1 , A.K. Johnson2, R.D. Kirkden3, B.T. Richert1, J.P. Garner1,E.A. Pajor11 Purdue University, Department of Animal Sciences2 Iowa State University, Department of Animal Sciences3 University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine
    33. 33. 4’ Key Sow 6’ Rubber Mat 8’ Straw Hopper12’ Compost Trough Cotton Cord Nipple Drinker T2’ 7’ 5.5’
    34. 34. Motivation Not Affected by Status HPP - Not significant Latency - Not significant 120 P = 0.72 P = 0.70 100 10 Latency to Press the Panel (s) 80Highest Price Paid (HPP) 60 40 20 1 0 0 Dominant Subordinate Dominant Subordinate
    35. 35. Differing results for behavioral measures and motivation tests: The value of environmental enrichment to gestating sows housed in stallsM.R.P. Elmore 1 , A.K. Johnson2, R.D. Kirkden3, E.G. Patterson-Kane4 , B.T.Richert1,J.P. Garner1, E.A. Pajor11 Purdue University, Department of Animal Sciences2 Iowa State University, Department of Animal Sciences3 University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine4 American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Welfare Division
    36. 36. Objective Compare the motivation of stall-housed sows for access to 1 of 4 resources (n=8/treatment):  Spent mushroom compost in a trough (2.27 kg)  Straw in a rack (0.45 kg)  Food in a trough (0.91 kg, positive control)  Empty trough (negative control)
    37. 37. Discussion Motivation highest for compost Sow spent most time using straw Feed restricted sows biased towards “food-like” rewards
    38. 38. Overall Conclusions Sows motivated for enrichments in both stall and group settings  Compost and straw highly valued  Welfare benefits from mats, work well in groups First studies to investigate enrichments in groups Ground work for future motivation tests and applied industry knowledge
    40. 40. Conclusion Animal welfare is about the state of the animal. Animal behaviour is linked to animal welfare. All systems have welfare challenges Preference and motivational testing show promise in gaining insight into the animal’s perspective
    41. 41. Future directions All systems have welfare challenges Numerous sow housing issues  Bedding, space, social, enrichments, etc How to best manage alternatives Framed by the new definition of welfare Influenced by the public with or without science
    42. 42. Acknowledgements Dr. Monica Pittman, Dr. Laurie Mack Ms. Lyndsey Jones National Pork Board Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University USDA –Livestock Behavior Research Unit