Loose farrowing sows require different routines
A good relationship between sows and humans must be part of the work with loose farrowing and lactating sows. This was the result of recent research, published by the Danish Pig Research Centre (VSP).
VSP conducted a study in eight herds, all working with loose sows, by doing interviews and visits.
The researchers said that, in order to deal with relatively quiet sows in the first days post-farrowing, it is necessary that the sows are familiar with the people who take care of them.
They indicated that it is possible to build a good relationship with sows by assigning a little bit of straw or feed manually by visiting the breeding section in the days leading up to farrowing. Each sow must always be prepared for visits by that person by having got used to his or her voice.
Gilts they judged to be quicker disturbed by turmoil in the house or by visits than older sows.
The research has become relevant since piglet mortality is high due to ever-growing litter sizes. Especially newborn piglets are more susceptible to becoming trapped under sows – and the chances only increase when sows are kept in loose lactation housing.
Experiments have shown that most crushed piglets get trapped under the sow when she lies down or rolls to another side when she was already lying down.
Restlessness causes sows to rise or roll about on the abdomen unnecessarily, and leads sows to subsequently lie down or roll back on her side. Situations like these are likely to squeeze newborn piglets.
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