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Objective—To compare the location and severity of injuries in pregnant sows housed in individual gestation stalls with that in pregnant sows housed in dynamic groups in pens with electronic sow feeders.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—100 pregnant sows of parity 1 to 3 and various body weights.

Procedure—Fifty sows each were randomly allotted to gestation stalls or group pens with electronic sow feeders. Injuries were scored on the basis of location, number, and depth of wounds. Injury scores for sows in both housing systems were compared during a period of 90 days. The influence of factors such as duration of stay in the housing system, parity, and body weight on sow injuries was also examined.

Results—Injury scores were higher in group pens with electronic sow feeders. As body weight increased, injury scores decreased for sows housed in group pens with electronic sow feeders and increased for sows housed in gestation stalls. There was a significant negative association between second parity and total injury scores.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Modifications in housing system design and management procedures are needed to reduce injuries in pregnant sows. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1334–1338)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To compare well-being, performance, and longevity of gestating sows housed in stalls or in pens with an electronic sow feeder (ESF).

Animals—382 pregnant sows of parities 1 through 6.

Procedure—Sows were housed in separate stalls (n = 176) or group pens (206) with an ESF. Well-being of sows was assessed at various time points in terms of injuries, salivary cortisol concentration, and behavior in a novel arena or to a novel object. Farrowing performance and longevity of sows were also assessed.

Results—Total injury scores (TIS) of sows in pens were significantly higher at initial introduction and mixing. In stall-housed sows, TIS was significantly higher during late gestation. The TIS and cortisol concentration were significantly lower in stall-housed sows, compared with values for sows in pens. As parity increased, the likelihood of higher median TIS decreased significantly in pen-housed sows and increased significantly in stall-housed sows. The TIS of sows in pens was negatively correlated with body weight and backfat thickness, whereas these correlations were positive in stall-housed sows. Farrowing performance and results for novel arena or objects did not differ. Proportion of sows removed was significantly higher for pens than for stalls; lameness was the major reason for removal for both systems.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Stalls impose space restrictions for larger sows, resulting in injuries during late gestation. Interventions are needed to minimize aggression during initial introduction and mixing and at the ESF in pens to reduce severe injuries or lameness of gestating sows. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1630–1638)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research