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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330429

Research Project: Safeguarding Well-being of Food Producing Animals

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Title: Microenvironments in swine farrowing rooms: the thermal, lighting and acoustic environments of sows and piglets

item MORELLO, GABRIELA - Purdue University
item Lay, Jr, Donald - Don
item RICHERT, BRIAN - Purdue University
item RODRIGUES, LUIS HENRIQUE - Universidade De Campinas (UNICAMP)
item Marchant-Forde, Jeremy

Submitted to: Scientia Agricola
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Commercial livestock production in the United States is often carried out in climate-controlled buildings, with the assumption that all animals within a given room are subject to the same environmental conditions. Similar assumptions occur in livestock production research, where experimental treatments are often applied separately to individual animals or pens of animals within a room or building. The aim of this study was to describe temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), light intensity (LI), sound intensity (SI) and air velocity (AV) in 2 commercial farrowing rooms each containing 60 farrowing crates and determine if there were differences in these measures between and within rooms and across seasons. Our results showed that although the overall averages of our measures were similar between rooms and seasons on a daily basis, there were considerable differences when the data was examined more closely. Differences in T, RH, LI, AV and SI between crates were as high as 9.6 °C, 56.9 %, 3,847 .3 Lx, 0.87 m·s-1 and 38.7 dBC, respectively, within the same farrowing room at the same instant of measurement, meaning that the pigs within the same room could be experiencing quite different environments at any given instant. The variation in temperature, relative humidity, air velocity, light and sound intensities found in the present research should be taken into consideration, not only at the production setting, but also in research projects. Given that there is some evidence in the literature that all the variables measured in this study have some effect on pig welfare and/or productivity, a more precise control of the pigs’ microenvironments may lead to improvements on production efficiency and welfare.

Technical Abstract: The present research hypothesized that the thermal, lighting and acoustic environments in commercial swine farrowing rooms vary over time and among crates. The study was conducted in 27 replicates in two commercial farrowing rooms in North Central Indiana, each equipped with 60 farrowing crates. Temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), light intensity (LI), sound intensity (SI) and air velocity (AV) were continuously monitored and estimated for each crate at the sow level, for 48 h post-farrowing, which is usually a critical period for piglet survivability. Average daily T for all the crates in Room 1 was 24.1 ± 2.0 °C., 1.0 °C lower (P < 0.05) than in Room 2. Although the overall T mean was similar between rooms and seasons, frequency distribution diagrams revealed that the proportion of time spent within distinct levels of mean daily T (from 15.0 °C to 28.0 °C) varied substantially between rooms and seasons. Similar results were found for all variables measured in this study. Differences in T, RH, LI, AV and SI among crates were as high as 9.6 °C, 56.9 %, 3847.3 Lx, 0.87 m·s-1 and 38.7 dBC, respectively, within the same farrowing room at the same instant of measurement. The results of the present research indicate that aspects that go beyond the physical environment of the sows, such as the thermal, lighting and acoustic environment can vary substantially over time and among crates of automatically climate controlled farrowing rooms. These differences should be taken into consideration in the production setting and in research.