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Rolling behaviour of sows in relation to piglet crushing on sloped versus level floor pens

Danholt, Lone, Moustsen, Vivi Aarestrup, Nielsen, Mai Britt Friis, Kristensen, Anders Ringgaard
Livestock science 2011 v.141 no.1 pp. 59-68
crushing, farrowing pens, parturition, piglets, rolling, sows
The study focused on the rolling behaviour of sows and the crushing of piglets by sows' rolling behaviour. The experiment examined the influence of sloped floor in loose housed farrowing pens on the rolling behaviour of sows and crushing of piglets. The experimental unit was made up of 24 pens. There were two experimental pen designs with piglet creep in the corner of the pen and piglet creep across the end of the pen, respectively. Both of the experimental pen designs had a 10% sloped floor in the sow's resting area. The two control pen designs were identical to the experimental pen designs, but with a level floor. The behaviour of 85 sows and their litters was continuously video recorded. Behavioural observations were made from birth of the first piglet and until 3days after birth of the first piglet. Rolling behaviour of sows caused significantly more trapped piglets under the sow than lying down from standing (P=0.04). Rolling behaviour caused 64% of the trapped piglets and lying down from standing caused 36% of the trapped piglets. Rolling from udder to side without protection trapped significantly more piglets than rolling from udder to side near slanted wall or piglet protection rails and rolling from side to udder (P<0.001). With a certain pen design sloped floor reduced rolling from udder to side without protection (P=0.007) and reduced the number of trapped piglets (P=0.01), but results concerning lying behaviour showed that sloped floor pushed sows to rest on the level part of the floor. The results indicate that rolling behaviour that crushes piglets can be reduced, and sows prefer to lie on a level floor.