Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Production, health and behavioral time budget of housing gestating gilts during one parity in either individual stalls (n=14) or groups of 4 (n=8; 27 gilts) with individual feeding stalls were evaluated. Animals were limit-fed once per day. Floors were fully slatted with no bedding. All conditions, except for housing type, were identical for the two systems. Gilts were weighed and their backfat measured on d 7, 35, 63 and 91 of gestation. Skin health was evaluated using a 6-point scoring scale every 2 wk. Lameness was scored using a 6-point gait scoring scale when gilts were transferred to the farrowing room. Behavior was videotaped for 24 h at wk 4, 6, 8/9 and 13 of gestation. Stall- and group-housed gilts did not differ in body weight or backfat during the study. Group-housed animals gained on average 20% more weight during pregnancy, but this difference was not significant. There were no differences in skin lesion scores between gilts in the two housing systems on d 7, but by d 91 skin health for several regions of the head, face, body, feet and legs was significantly poorer in group-housed than stall-housed animals (P< .05). Lameness scores were not higher in group-housed than stall-housed gilts (P< .1). As gestation progressed, gilts spent less time standing (P< .0001) and more time lying (P< .05), but behavioral time budgets (percentages of time spent standing, lying, sitting, eating and drinking) of stall and group occupants did not differ. When not eating or drinking, grouped gilts spent 24.5% of their time in the feeding stalls and 75.5% in the communal area. In summary, while gilts grouped for one gestation showed more skin injuries and lameness than stalled gilts there were no production or behavioral time budget differences.