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Open AccessArticle

Behaviour and Skin Injuries of Piglets Originating from a Novel Group Farrowing System Before and After Weaning

Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behaviour, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173 Hannover, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 93;
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 2 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
PDF [1461 KB, uploaded 2 May 2019]


The aim of this study was to analyse a novel group farrowing system (GH) concerning piglets’ behaviour, skin injuries and body weight gain, to test its animal friendliness. Skin injuries and weight gain were compared to piglets originating from conventional individual housing (IH) before and after weaning. The GH system had five farrowing pens without crates, a common area and an area only available for piglets. In total, 34 litters were studied. Four days after the GH-piglets had left the pens during lactation, the lesion score of piglets in GH was higher than in IH. However, piglets from the GH sustained fewer injuries after mixing at weaning, compared to the piglets from IH and had higher daily weight gains, during the early nursery phase. The common area in GH was intensively used for active behaviour, since standing/walking and playing were observed there, most frequently, whereas lying occurred most frequently inside the pens. Immediately after the piglets had left the pens in the GH, the piglets preferred proximity to the sow, compared to the pens where they were born. The GH system enabled social enrichment, offered increased space for activity and led to fewer skin lesions, after weaning; thus, potentially increasing animal welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: pre-weaning group housing; piglets; weight gain; skin lesions; activity pre-weaning group housing; piglets; weight gain; skin lesions; activity

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Schrey, L.; Kemper, N.; Fels, M. Behaviour and Skin Injuries of Piglets Originating from a Novel Group Farrowing System Before and After Weaning. Agriculture 2019, 9, 93.

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