By Bruce Cochrane
An animal science professor with the University of Manitoba is confident changes in the design of concrete slatted flooring will help reduce lameness among group housed sows and cut costs associated with culling.
As a result of changes to Canada's Pig Code of Practice, the Canadian pork industry is moving away from stalled housing of gestating sows to group housing.
In response a project being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc is focusing on Optimizing Flooring and Social Management of Group Housed Gestating Sows.
Dr. Laurie Connor, an animal science professor with the University of Manitoba, notes previous research has shown sows housed in groups on concrete slatted floors tend to be more prone to injury.
Dr. Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba:
Concrete slatted floors are really very common in North America.
Largely it's for ease of manure management and removal of that manure from the slatted floors and those floors can create some issues for the sows, feet and leg type issues. lameness, hoof and claw injuries.
Most of the recommendations had to deal more with the a actual removal of the manure than they did with the comfort of the sows.
From that aspect the optimization of the flooring really is trying to determine what is the best, if you will, slat width and combined with what gap width so it is comfortable for the sows so that they're not readily catching their feet or turning legs and causing lameness but also provides for efficient manure removal.
Dr. Connor says the goal is to provide clear recommendations for the slat to gap ratio and in doing so it will promote sow well being and be more cost effective because it will decrease culling for reasons associated with injuries.