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Mixing Sows into Alternative Lactation Housing Affects Sow Aggression at Mixing, Future Reproduction and Piglet Injury, with Marked Differences between Multisuckle and Sow Separation Systems

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School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy 5371, Australia
2
South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Roseworthy 5371, Australia
3
Paul Hughes Consulting, North Adelaide 5006, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090658
Received: 24 June 2019 / Revised: 23 August 2019 / Accepted: 2 September 2019 / Published: 5 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management of Peri-Parturient and Lactating Sows and Piglets)
Alternative lactation housing could reduce aggression when sows are mixed. We aimed to compare the effects of mixing sows during lactation (with or without piglets) at weaning and after insemination and determine the effects of mixing strategies and lactation housing on the piglet. Sows in the multisuckle treatment were the least aggressive, had the fewest injuries around mixing, and gave birth to the most piglets at the subsequent litter, with multisuckle housing having no apparent ill effects on the piglets. There was greater aggression in sows separated from their piglets for seven hours daily in lactation (SEP) than any other method. Multisuckle housing appears to be an effective way of decreasing aggression at the point of mixing, whilst optimizing sow reproduction. The behavioural response to mixing was similar when it occurred at weaning or after insemination, with the highest incidence of aggression observed in sows mixed without their piglets during lactation.
Alternative lactation housing could reduce aggression when sows are mixed. We aimed to compare the effects of mixing sows in lactation (with or without piglets), at weaning or after insemination, and determine the effects of lactation housing on the piglet. This study used 120 multiparous Large White × Landrace sows and 54 focal litters. The sows were mixed into groups of six and allocated to multisuckle from day 21 lactation (MS), separated from litter and housed in groups, with piglets left in the crate for seven hours daily from day 21 lactation (SEP), mixed at weaning (day 28 lactation) (WEAN) and mixed after artificial insemination (AI) (MAI; 4 ± 1 day after last AI). Behaviour, saliva for free salivary cortisol concentration and injury counts were taken on M-1 (before mixing), M0 (mixing), M1 and M6. Piglets were weighed, injury-scored and bloods taken for cortisol. There was reduced aggression, seen as fights, bites and knocks in MS compared to the other treatments on all days (p < 0.05). MS sows had no fights on M1 and M6 and had more piglets born in the subsequent farrowing. Piglet weight, cortisol and mortality were unaffected by treatment (p > 0.05). MS piglets had greater injury scores immediately after moving to multisuckle and lower injuries around weaning (p > 0.001). Multisuckle housing could decrease aggression and stress at mixing in sows, with changes in the time of peak piglet injury (at mixing rather than at weaning) but overall no negative effects on the piglets. View Full-Text
Keywords: aggression; lactation housing; piglet; production; stress; sow aggression; lactation housing; piglet; production; stress; sow
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Greenwood, E.C.; van Dissel, J.; Rayner, J.; Hughes, P.E.; van Wettere, W.H.E.J. Mixing Sows into Alternative Lactation Housing Affects Sow Aggression at Mixing, Future Reproduction and Piglet Injury, with Marked Differences between Multisuckle and Sow Separation Systems. Animals 2019, 9, 658.

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