Location: Livestock Behavior Research
Title: Alleyway width in a free-access stall system influences gestating sow behavior and welfare Authors
Submitted to: Joint Abstracts of the American Dairy Science and Society of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2011
Publication Date: July 10, 2011
Citation: Mack, L.A., Eicher, S.D., Johnson, A.K., Lay Jr, D.C., Richert, B.T., Pajor, E.A. 2011. Alleyway width in a free-access stall system influences gestating sow behavior and welfare. Joint Abstracts of the American Dairy Science and Society of Animal Science. #647, p. 683. Technical Abstract: Free-access stalls allow sows to choose the protection of a stall or use of a shared alleyway. This study investigated the effect of alleyway width on behavior in gestating sows. At 35 ± 8 d of gestation, 6 replicates of 21 sows (N=126) were equally assigned to 1 of 3 pens. Each pen contained 7 free-access stalls and a shared alleyway of 0.91, 2.13, or 3.05 m wide. Sows remained in these pens until approximately 111 days of gestation after which they were moved to farrowing stalls. Behavior was recorded once per week for 24 h throughout the experiment and scored using 10-min scan samples. Data were analyzed in SAS using Mixed Model Procedure with a post-hoc Tukey-Kramer adjustment. Sows with 0.91 m were observed more frequently in stalls (P<0.05) and less frequently in the alley (P<0.01) than either other treatment. As gestation progressed, sows used stalls less frequently (P<0.001) and alley more frequently (P<0.0001), but alley use increased least in 0.91 m pen (P<0.01). Sows with 0.91 m were observed more frequently partially in a stall than sows with 3.05 m (P<0.05) and sows with 2.13 m sows were intermediate. Stalls near the barn center were used more frequently than those near the outside wall (P<0.05) with middle stall use intermediate. Stall use by location showed no treatment differences. Lying was observed more frequently in sows with 0.91 m than those with 3.05 m (P<0.05), with 2.05 m intermediary. Standing decreased (P<0.01) and sitting tended to increase (P<0.10) as gestation advanced. Combined feed and trough use tended to decrease during the first 5 wks on treatment and then increase until sows entered farrowing stalls (P<0.10). There were no differences by time or treatment for pen investigatory behavior, such as oronasal contact with the walls and floor. Sows with 0.91 m were less frequently observed in social groups than sows with 2.13 m or 3.05 m (P<0.05) and the size of the groups was smaller (P<0.05). Social group size increased over time (P<0.05) with those in 3.05 m alley having the greatest increase (P<0.01). These results suggest that space limitations in the 0.91 m alleyway constrained the sows’ behaviors.