A study at the University of Illinois looking at standard gestation stalls, turn-around stalls and group-pen housing combinations found that the type of stall a pregnant sow is housed in for the first 30 days of gestation or its entire gestational period can impact its immune status, behavior and litter performance.

Researcher Janeen Salak-Johnson determined that the housing system may have minimal impact on body weight gain, but can impact late-lactation weight loss. Sows housed in standard stalls had a more stimulated and adaptive immune status than those in turn-around stalls.

Gestating sows that were housed in standard stalls before moving to pens had a more stimulated immune status at day 90 of gestation than sows previously housed in turn-around stalls. These sows had more ability to investigate their space, but the desire seems to wane as gestation days increase.

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Hence turning around may not be a true need of a gestating sow, but the behavior has lasting well-being effects. Sows housed in turn-around stalls prior to group pens had more aggressive encounters compared with sows previously housed in standard gestation stalls.

Overall, the housing environment and previous experience can impact future sow behavior and well-being, the researcher surmised.

Based on well-being measures, the worst strategies are to house sows in turn-around stalls throughout gestation or house sows in standard stalls and then move to group pens.

Key Points:

  • Housing sows in turn-around stalls for the entire gestational period is not recommended based on well-being measures.
  • Overall, sows kept in standard gestation stalls have similar or better well-being than sows kept in turn-around stalls or those moved to group pens.
  • Sows kept in standard stalls outperformed sows in all housing environments except for sows housed in turn-around stalls for 30 days and then moved to group pens.

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