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Evaluation of crates and girth tethers for sows: reproductive performance, immunity, behavior and ergonomic measures

By J. J. McGlone, J. L. Salak-Johnson, R. I. Nicolson, T. Hicks

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Abstract

An evaluation was made for two common sow housing systems: the girth tether and crate. Littermate Yorkshire X Landrace gilts were randomly assigned to either the crate or girth tether system and they remained in that treatment for 2 consecutive pregnancies and lactations. A total of 171 matings resulted in 141 litters (82.4% farrowing rate). Second parity sows penned in girth tethers had 1.5 fewer piglets born and 1.3 fewer piglets weaned than sows in the crate system. Owing to smaller litter sizes, piglets of nursing sows in the girth tether system were heavier at weaning. Immune measures showed no treatment effects. Behavioral measures indicated crated gilts and sows were more active overall than girth tethered sows. In addition, sows in the gestation crate showed more oral/nasal stereotypies, sitting and drinking than sows in the girth tether system. Less time was required to catch litters of piglets in the girth tether than in the crate farrowing environment. It was concluded that the girth tether system evaluated was undesirable from a welfare and economic standpoint, and use should be discouraged on commercial farms. The crate systems induced no evidence of stress among these sows as measured by reproductive and immune parameters. Large amounts of oral/nasal stereotypies were associated with enhanced litter size.

Date 1994
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 39
Issue 3/4
Pages 297-311
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Pork Industry Institute, Department of Animal Science and Food Technology Department, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2141, USA.
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Tags
  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Birth
  7. Deviant behavior
  8. Immune response
  9. Immunity reactions
  10. Immunological reactions
  11. Mammals
  12. stereotypes
  13. Stress
  14. Swine