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Title:Effect of alternative, individual and group housing systems, and management factors in group pens on the well-being of gestating sows
Author(s):DeDecker, Ashley E.
Director of Research:Salak-Johnson, Janeen L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Salak-Johnson, Janeen L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Wheeler, Matthew B.; Stein, Hans H.; Walker, Paul M.
Department / Program:Animal Sciences
Discipline:Animal Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Animal well-being has become one of the most controversial issues associated with modern animal agriculture. How animals raised for human consumption are being housed in modern housing systems has resulted in the passing of referendum that ban gestation stalls for sows, crates for veal calves, and battery cages for laying hens. Currently no scientific information support the current notion that these housing systems compromise animal well-being nor support that any of the current alternative housing systems improve animal welfare. Thus, implementing these novel housing systems before adequately assessing the impact of these systems on animal well-being could potentially compromise animal welfare. Therefore, the objective of this dissertation is to determine, which specific-housing components (physical and biological) within an individual, group-pen, and stall-pen housing system can be modified to enhance the well-being of gestating sows. All systems measured within the dissertation were assessed throughout gestation using a multi-disciplinary approach to determine sow well-being. Sow performance, productivity, behavior, and immune and endocrine status were all assessed at various time points throughout gestation to determine the overall well-being of the sow in each of these systems. Data were analyzed using Proc MIXED with repeated measures and Proc CORR was used to identify potential relationships among measures (SAS). Results from the research indicate that several physical components or management strategies that make-up a stall (e.g., expansion of stall width or direction of bars on front gate), pen (e.g, floor-feeding of high-fiber diet and floor-space allowance), and previous environment prior to gestation environment (e.g., standard stall for 30 d prior to group-pen for remainder of gestation) all seem to impact sow well-being within each alternative housing environment assessed and should be considered before implementing. Components that can potentially improve sow well-being are feeding a high-fiber diet with easy access to waterers in a group-pen of 1.7 m2 floor-space allowance, considering social status of sows kept in group-housing systems and therefore allocating based on BW, increasing the width of standard gestation stalls and ensuring that environmental components allow for oral activity to occur within that stall, and utilize a standard gestation stall prior to placing sows in group-pens. Conversely, components that were found to either compromise sow well-being or no welfare improvements were detected were: utilizing a 2.3 m2 floor-space allowance group-pen and feeding a high-fiber diet, using vertical bars on the front gate of the individual stall system, and using an individual stall that allows the sow to turn-around encouraged fighting if kept in them throughout gestation and prior to placement into a group-pen on d 30. Results from this dissertation imply that components within housing systems impact indicators of sow well-being more than the actual housing system. Making simple physical, biological, and management adjustments within existing facilities can improve sow well-being while sustaining world protein supply, producer profitability, and consumer trust.
Issue Date:2012-02-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Ashley E. DeDecker
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-02-01
Date Deposited:2011-12

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