A number of scientific studies have compared the welfare benefits of stall vs. group housing for gestating sows, according to a report released today by the Prairie Swine Centre (PSC) in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Study conclusions vary because welfare assessment involves a variety of measures, and the conclusions reached will vary depending on the emphasis placed on different measures, PSC researchers say.
The key measures and study results comparing sow welfare in stalls and groups can be assessed in the areas of welfare, sow health and performance, stress physiology, sow behavior and sow aggression.
Evaluation of the welfare of sows must consider all and not just some of these factors. The results show there are advantages and disadvantages to both stall- and group-housing systems.
The main advantages of stalls relate to their ability to provide individual nutrition and care to sows and the elimination of injuries associated with aggression when sows are mixed.
The advantages of group housing are that sows receive more exercise and have the opportunity to perform a range of behaviors.
As a consequence, group-housed sows show less abnormality of bone and muscle development, less abnormal behavior, reduced urinary tract infections and shoulder sores, and better cardiovascular fitness.
For more information on examining the assessments of housing systems, view the full text at http://www.prairieswine.com/wp-content//uploads/2013/08/SOE-Volume-1-Issue-7-Conclusion.pdf.
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