Research Shows Exercise Benefits Performance of Older Parity Sows

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Farmscape for July 3, 2020

Full Interview 15:55 Listen

Research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan and the Prairie Swine Centre has found the opportunity for exercise improves the performance of older parity sows housed in stalls. In response to changes in Canadian Pig Code of Practice requirements for gestating sows housed in stalls after 2024 scientists compared the performance of gestating sows housed in groups to that of sows housed in stalls and sows housed in stalls and given ten minutes of exercise per week. Dr. Yolande Seddon, an Assistant Professor of Swine Behaviour and Welfare with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare, says the biggest benefits were observed among older the sows.

Clip-Dr. Yolande Seddon-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
Productivity wise we actually found that there was no effect of the gestation treatment on young parity sows but, for the older parity sows, we actually found there was an effect of having the exercise and being in group housing. It effected greater movement to increase the numbers of live born piglets and to reduce the number of stillborns. We didn’t find any effects on overall piglet birthweights or weaning wights but, in terms of the behavior of the sows, we did find sows in groups behaved as if they were more comfortable. They lay down for longer and they actually sat less and stood less where as the sows in the stalls, they stood more and they sat more.
We also found that, in terms of stereotypic behavior, our stall housed animals performed more stereotypic behavior than the animals in the groups. Again this is suggesting that 10 minutes of exercise once a week wasn’t sufficient to have a measurable benefit to the sow’s well being from what we can understand about their performance of stereotypic behavior.

Dr. Seddon says the results of this work is now ready for release.

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