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Strategic use of straw at farrowing

effects on behaviour, health and production in sows and piglets

Westin, Rebecka (2014). Strategic use of straw at farrowing. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Skara : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2014:69
ISBN 978-91-576-8086-0
eISBN 978-91-576-8087-7
[Doctoral thesis]

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According to EU-regulations, sows should be provided with suitable manipulable material, this in order to meet their behavioural needs. "Strategic use of straw at farrowing" means that loose housed sows are provided with 15-20 kg of chopped straw once at 2 days prior to the calculated date of farrowing. This gives them increased access to nesting material and creates a more suitable environment with an improved micro-climate and increased comfort during farrowing and early lactation, compared to a limited use of straw. After farrowing, the straw is left to gradually drain through the slatted floor and is then replaced by a daily supply of 0.5–1 kg straw in accordance with common Swedish management routines. The overall aim of this thesis was to evaluate if strategic use of straw at farrowing is technically feasible and to investigate its effect on behaviour, health and production in farrowing sows and suckling piglets by studying the sow's nest-building behaviour and farrowing duration, the prevalence of bruising, piglet weight gain and pre-weaning mortality.

Two studies were conducted in six conventional piglet-producing farms in South-West Sweden. Study I shows that it is technically possible to achieve an efficient throughput of straw and to maintain good pen hygiene in partly slatted farrowing pens for loose housed sows. However, straw chop lengths need to be adjusted to the type and design of the slatted pen floor. Study II shows that strategic use of straw made sows spend more time nest-building pre-partum and less time during the first hour after birth of the first piglet, compared to limited straw access. The sows also gave birth to fewer stillborn piglets. In piglets, strategic use of straw reduced the development of skin abrasions and soft heel/sole erosions. It also increased the average daily weight gain and mean body weight at weaning. Under the conditions studied, the overall pre-weaning mortality was not affected; however, the distribution of post-mortem findings differed, with fewer piglets dying due to starvation and more due to crushing.

In summary, this thesis provides knowledge about housing around farrowing and its interaction with biological and behavioural mechanisms of importance for sow welfare and piglet survival and health.

Authors/Creators:Westin, Rebecka
Title:Strategic use of straw at farrowing
Subtitle:effects on behaviour, health and production in sows and piglets
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :2014
Number of Pages:66
I.Westin, R., Holmgren, N., Mattsson, B., Algers, B. (2013). Throughput capacity of large quantities of chopped straw in partly slatted farrowing pens for loose housed sows. Acta Agrarica Scandinavica Section A - Animal Science 63, 1-10.
II.Westin, R., Holmgren, N., Hultgren, J., Algers, B. (2014). Large quantities of straw at farrowing prevents bruising and increases weight gain in piglets. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 115, 181-190.
III.Westin, R., Hultgren, J., Algers, B. (2014). Strategic use of straw increases nest-building in loose housed farrowing sows. (Submitted manuscript)
IV.Westin, R., Holmgren, N., Hultgren, J., Ortman, K, Linder, A., Algers, B. (2014). Post-mortem findings and piglet mortality in relation to strategic use of straw at farrowing. (Submitted manuscript)
Place of Publication:Skara
Publisher:Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-8086-0
ISBN for electronic version:978-91-576-8087-7
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:L Animal production > L01 Animal husbandry
L Animal production > L20 Animal ecology
L Animal production > L70 Veterinary science and hygiene - General aspects
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 403 Veterinary Science > Clinical Science
Agrovoc terms:swine, sows, piglets, parturition, animal housing, nesting, straw, farrowing pens, lesions, mortality, animal health, behaviour
Keywords:pig housing, nest-building, farrowing sow, bruising, lameness, piglet mortality, loose housing, piglet weight gain, bedding material
Permanent URL:
ID Code:11486
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
External funders:Stiftelsen Lantbruksforskning and Svenska djurhälsovården
Deposited By: Rebecka Westin
Deposited On:05 Sep 2014 12:10
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 11:08

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