Submitted to: Swine Day Report
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Gestation housing, individual stalls or stalls with access to group space, was compared for growth and lameness indicators. Forty-eight gilts were housed in groups (eight groups of four gilts) or stalls (sixteen individual stalls). The group housing was 3.94 by 2.43 m and each stall was 2.21 by 0.61 m. Gilts were placed in gestation housing 7 days after breeding. Body weights and backfat measures were taken at placement in gestation housing, then on days 35, 63, and 91 after breeding while in gestation housing. Skin health was evaluated every two weeks throughout gestation by scoring lesions, wounds, caluses, and swelling. A lameness score was determined as the gilts were transferred to the farrowing housing. Body weights and backfat scores were not different between treatments (P>0.10). However, skin health was poorer in group-housed than in stall-housed gilts (P<0.05). By day 91 after breeding, the skin-health scores of the feet and legs of group-housed gilts were worse than those of the stalled gilts (P<0.05). Mean lameness scores (0.64 and 0.29 for group- and stall-housed, respectively) were not different between treatments (P>0.10). The increase in skin lesions and abrasions may be because of the increased ability to move about the pens, aggression among group members, or accidental contact between gilts. Ongoing behavior analysis may allow that determination. These findings will be useful for defining well-being of gestating gilts.