Christine Pelland from Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services, Flooring Design For Pen Gestation

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The  design  of  slatted  concrete  floors  for liquid    manure    barns    has    traditionally leaned more heavily towards  optimization of  effective  drainage  of  manure.  Some  of these  slat  designs  have  worked  well  in  optimizing manure  management  and  at  the  same  time  did  not increase  sow  lameness  where  sows  were  housed  in individual   gestation   stalls.   Some   studies   have demonstrated  that  sows  that  are  group-housed  on slatted floors can be more prone to foot lesions than stall-housed  sows  on  similar  floors.  As  more  sows move  out  of  stalls  and  into  pen  gestation,  a  rethink on slat design for group housed sows was in order.  Kinematics   is   a   branch   of   mechanics   that   is concerned  with  the  geometry  of  motion  of  objects. These   Canadian   researchers   used   kinematics   to characterize  the  gait  of  12  gilts  and  12  lame  sows walking in a corridor on slatted concrete floors with different  combinations  of  slat  (85,  105  or  125  mm) and  gap  (19,  22  or  25  mm)  widths.  (Photo  1)  The nine experimental floors were tested with slats in the perpendicular    and    parallel    orientation    to    the direction  of  animal  walk,  according  to  a  duplicated lattice design. Gait parameters were quantified using spatial,  temporal  and  angular  kinematics  for  front and rear limbs.

The  researchers  found  that  some  gait  parameters were  significantly  affected  by  the  treatments  (p  < 0.05), but the effects differed between gilts and lame sows  and  between  slat  orientations.  Most  of  the effects  were  found  on  the  front  limbs  which  bear 60%   of   the   body   weight.   Gap   width   had   a significant  effect  on  kinematic  parameters  such  as back angle, stride length, foot height, and carpal and tarsal joint angle amplitudes. Slat width significantly   affected   parameters   such   as    foot height, and carpal and tarsal  joint angle amplitudes. The  study  showed  a  better  ease  of  walking  for  the smaller  gaps  (19  and  22  mm),  and  the  larger  slats (105 and 125 mm).

Take Home Message

These  findings  are  partially  in  agreement  with the recommendation of the European Union for a maximum  gap  width  of  20  mm  but  support  the use of  a  wider  slat  than  the  EU  minimum  slat  width of 80 mm.

Submitted by Christine Pelland, DVM

Ref:  Devillers N, Janvier E, Delijani F, Méthot S, Dick KJ, Zhang Q, Connor  L.      Effect  of  Slat  and  Gap  Width  of  Slatted  Concrete Flooring on Sow Gait Using Kinematics Analysis.   Animals (Basel). 2019 Apr 30;9(5). pii: E206. doi: 10.3390/ani9050206.\

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