By Bruce Cochrane
A nutritionist with the Prairie Swine Centre reports the strategies used when feeding gestating sows in group housing situations can play significant role in reducing levels of aggression.
With most of our gestating sows expected to be moving into groups within the coming years, feeding strategies that will maintain body condition, maintain performance and maintain longevity of the sow will be critical.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, says the impact of moving from stall housing to group housing on the nutritional requirements of the sow is probably slight but feeding the sow becomes much more challenging when she is in a group.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:
We would like to be able to individualize what each sow gets as much as possible to what she needs and that becomes harder when she is in a group.
It has been shown certainly that feeding the high fibre diet, the sows appear to be more satiated.
They're not as hungry throughout the day.
Some types of feeding systems, for example electronic sow feeding system, you're able to more individualize feed intake per sow so the results of aggression are not so apparent.
Some concepts, for example, just feeding them actually once a day has been shown to be more effective at decreasing aggression than feeding them many times throughout the day.
If they're only fed once a day then they seem to go and lay down for the rest of the day rather than up waiting and fighting each other waiting for their next feed to come.
Some of those ideas we're still working on.
We're still working with how to best feed the gestating sow in groups.
Dr. Beaulieu notes we assume, for example, that more by-products will be used in the future because they're cost effective and a lot of these by-products are high in fibre.
She suggests that will create a win win situation for the sow, for feed intake, for reducing aggression and perhaps even for reducing the cost of these rations.