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Article

Effects of Different Housing Systems during Suckling and Rearing Period on Skin and Tail Lesions, Tail Losses and Performance of Growing and Finishing Pigs

1
Department of Animal Sciences, Livestock Systems, Georg-August-University, Albrecht-Thaer-Weg 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
2
Clinic for Swine, Small Ruminants, Forensic Medicine and Ambulatory Service, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany
3
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Piazza Università 5, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
4
Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Saxony, Mars-la-Tour-Straße 6, 26121 Oldenburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emma Fàbrega i Romans
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2184; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082184
Received: 30 June 2021 / Revised: 20 July 2021 / Accepted: 20 July 2021 / Published: 23 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Behaviour of Pigs in Relation to Housing Environment)
Weaning involves multiple stressors and is one of the most critical periods for piglets. It is known that pigs try to compensate stressful events by different coping strategies that might culminate in the biting of other pigs. The reduction in the number of stressors by optimizing housing conditions might be a way to reduce tail biting, one huge challenge in modern pig production. Since tail docking as a measure to avoid injuries is banned by EU regulations, this study aims to present alternatives to combat tail biting. The present work shows that the group housing of lactating sows and their litters improves pig welfare after regrouping events in terms of skin lesions. Rearing in the farrowing pen with reduced regrouping positively affected the incidence of tail lesions and losses of undocked pigs. Against expectations, free farrowing and group housing systems had no negative impact on later performance during rearing or fattening.
Feasible alternatives to stressful weaning and tail-docking are needed to inhibit tail biting. Therefore, we investigated the effects of housing systems for 1106 pigs that were weaned from: (1) conventional farrowing crates (FC), (2) free-farrowing pens (FF), or (3) group housing of lactating sows (GH) into (1) conventional rearing pens (Conv) or (2) piglets remained in their farrowing pens for rearing (Reaf). Tails were docked or left undocked batchwise. All pigs were regrouped for the fattening period. Pigs were scored for skin lesions, tail lesions and losses. After weaning, Conv-GH pigs had significantly less skin lesions than Conv-FC and Conv-FF pigs. After regrouping for fattening, Reaf-GH pigs had significantly less skin lesions than Conv pigs, Reaf-FC and Reaf-FF. The frequency of tail lesions of undocked Conv pigs peaked in week 4 (66.8%). Two weeks later, Reaf undocked pigs reached their maximum (36.2%). At the end of fattening, 99.3% of undocked Conv pigs and 43.1% of undocked Reaf pigs lost parts of their tail. In conclusion, the co-mingling of piglets during suckling reduced the incidence of skin lesions. Rearing in the farrowing pen significantly reduced the incidence of tail lesions and losses for undocked pigs. No housing system negatively affected the performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: farrowing systems; early socialization; rearing in the farrowing pen; tail biting; average daily gain farrowing systems; early socialization; rearing in the farrowing pen; tail biting; average daily gain
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lange, A.; Hahne, M.; Lambertz, C.; Gauly, M.; Wendt, M.; Janssen, H.; Traulsen, I. Effects of Different Housing Systems during Suckling and Rearing Period on Skin and Tail Lesions, Tail Losses and Performance of Growing and Finishing Pigs. Animals 2021, 11, 2184. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082184

AMA Style

Lange A, Hahne M, Lambertz C, Gauly M, Wendt M, Janssen H, Traulsen I. Effects of Different Housing Systems during Suckling and Rearing Period on Skin and Tail Lesions, Tail Losses and Performance of Growing and Finishing Pigs. Animals. 2021; 11(8):2184. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082184

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lange, Anita, Michael Hahne, Christian Lambertz, Matthias Gauly, Michael Wendt, Heiko Janssen, and Imke Traulsen. 2021. "Effects of Different Housing Systems during Suckling and Rearing Period on Skin and Tail Lesions, Tail Losses and Performance of Growing and Finishing Pigs" Animals 11, no. 8: 2184. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082184

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