[ASC-media] SPACED OUT SOWS WORK IT OUT: Pork CRC Media Release

Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Thu May 7 22:26:33 PDT 2015

May 8, 2015



Australian researchers have demonstrated mixing sows at weaning, or after
mating, has no long term effect on welfare, according to Roger Campbell,
CEO, Co-operative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork

"And excellent reproduction will be achieved, provided sows are
appropriately fed and carefully managed," Dr Campbell said. 

"Our researchers, who lead the world in sow welfare, have provided industry
with practical solutions and the science behind why they work."

A large study (Pork CRC Project
<http://porkcrc.com.au/research/program-1/program-1-projects/> 1C-105) by
Paul Hemsworth, Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC), University of
Melbourne and scientists from Pork CRC Participant, Rivalea Australia,
suggested minimal long term impacts on reproduction and welfare from higher
cortisol levels and aggression exhibited by sows immediately after mixing
and at reduced floor space. 

After investigating how floor spaces between 1.45 and 2.9 square metres
affected the welfare and performance of sows grouped within four days of
mating, Professor Hemsworth, like his AWSC colleague Dr Jean-Loup Rault in
an associated Pork CRC study(Project 1C-111), found aggressive interactions
and cortisol levels at day two after mixing declined with increasing floor
space, but there were no effects at day 26. 

Dr Campbell explained that although floor space between 1.45 and 2.9 square
metres had no long term effects on sow welfare or reproduction, aggression
and cortisol levels were markedly affected by floor space immediately after

"However, sows change their behaviour rapidly and these effects disappeared
by day 26 and a corollary study showed the effects had actually disappeared
by day nine," he said. 

In this study the sows were floor fed 2.5 kg daily, spread over four feeds.
They were housed in pens without partitions and the study ran for 72 weeks
to cover all seasons.

The results differed from a similar APL study at the same facility three
years ago when the same effects of space and time on aggression and cortisol
were observed and reported. 

"The difference was that farrowing rate improved in a linear fashion with
increasing space at mixing in the APL study and this was particularly
evident in summer," Dr Campbell said.

"In Pork CRC's study, farrowing rate was some 10 percentage units higher
(90+% vs 80%) than in the APL study and was unaffected by floor space.

"The other difference in the two studies was that in APL's the sows had
never experienced group housing and the staff involved had never managed
sows in groups. 

"In the Pork CRC study, the sows and staff had experienced group housing,
which may have contributed to better performance," he said.

According to Dr Campbell, the bottom line for Australia's pork producers,
the majority of whom (70% based on industry surveys) have moved to group
housing, is there probably isn't an optimum or minimal floor space for group
housed sows as they adapt rapidly to mixing and to reduced floor space.

"Pork CRC results show aggresssion and cortisol levels immediately after
mixing can be reduced by increased space. This supports the mixing pen
concept where sows are given more space in the week after grouping and then
their space allowance can be reduced.

"Aggression at mixing and immediately after can't be elimated and Pork CRC
participant feedback is floor space of 1.8 to 2 square metres supports good
performance" he said.


www.porkcrc.com.au <http://www.porkcrc.com.au> 


Authorised by Pork CRC and issued on its behalf by 

Brendon Cant, Pork CRC Communications Manager, Mob 0417 930 536.


<mailto:roger.campbell at porkcrc.com.au?subject=Media%20Release> Dr Roger
Campbell, Pork CRC CEO, Mob 0407 774 714.


Pork CRC Sow Spacing.docx/RC040515



Brendon Cant

BCA PR Pty Ltd

PO Box 749

South Fremantle 

Western Australia 6162

Tel +61 8 9430 9463

Mob +61 417 930 536


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