Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Questions are still being asked regarding the benefits of individual versus group penning on the performance of swine. This is a particularly relevant question for swine evaluation test stations collecting performance data on young boars to be used for breeding. Efficiency of feed utilization is important because feed cost accounts for approximately 60% of total production costs. Two studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of individual versus group feeding for weanling pigs as determined by average daily feed intake, gain and feed efficiency. The results showed that pigs penned individually, with or without physical and visual contact with other pigs, will perform equally as well as those penned and fed in small groups. Further physiological parameters measured to determine if either penning system was more stressful to the pigs showed no differences between the individual versus group fed pigs.
Technical Abstract: Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of individual versus group penning on the performance of nursery-aged crossbred barrows and gilts. In each experiment, half of the pigs were tested in a group pen for two periods and individually for one period compared to the other pigs that were fed individually for two periods and as a group for one period. In Exp. 1, individually-penned pigs had physical and visual contact with pigs in the adjoining pens; in Exp. 2, such contact was denied. Performance was determined and blood samples were taken at the end of each period. Plasma was assayed for cortisol and triiodothyronine (T3) concentrations. Penning sequences produced inconsistent weight gains and feed intake with differences favoring (P<.05) individually-penned pigs. Penning treatment had no effect on feed efficiency, plasma cortisol or T3 concentrations. These data suggest that pigs perform equally well whether fed and housed individually or in groups, with no indications of stress associated with individual pens and isolation.