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Reproduction of group-housed sows

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ABSTRACT

The sow is a social animal in her behavior throughout the reproductive cycle. An exception to her preference for being a part of a social group occurs one to two1–2 d days prior to farrowing, when she separates from her group and seeks for isolation in order to build up a nest. She then spends the first week or two with her piglets, mainly in the nest. After this short period of separation of 1–2 weeks, she brings her litter with her and rejoins the group. In modern intensive pig production, the sow is often restricted to an individual cage for lactation and, in many European countries, she may still spend additional periods in stalls during pregnancy. In the intensive production, isolation of the sow from the rest of the group is therefore a relatively long period of six to ten6-10 weeks, which creates a challenge for the social memory of the sow. While grouping of sows during lactation is an interesting option, until now this is encountered mostly in organic or otherwise extensive farming systems, such as outdoor farming. However, the present society is asking for more animal friendly models of production and there appears to be more need for studies of group housing issues during lactation. Grouping of sows after weaning causes stress, which imposes risks for fertility. Thus, timing of grouping is probably very critical. It is well documented that the embryonic period of the pregnancy, lasting up to Day 35, is more vulnerable for loss of pregnancy than the subsequent fetal period. There are indications that stress of grouping may cause some harm to vitality parameters of blastocysts already while at the site of fertilization in the oviduct. Later on, during the critical periods of maternal recognition of pregnancy, endocrinological models testing maintenance of pregnancy suggest that chronic stress lasting for more than two2 days may cause abortion and loss of the whole litter. However, the sow may be resistant, in terms of her reproductive function, to acute stress lasting for hours or up to a day. In conclusion, grouping of sows during lactation may be of interest in the future. At present, issues of group housed sows after weaning and early pregnancy seem to be of most practical relevance. Chronic stress of sows lasting for more than two2 days may lead to loss of the whole litter.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Illustration of social separation and thereby isolation of the sow from her group in different production scenarios; in organic farming (solid line), the separation lasts for three weeks only, whereas in the most common two intensive production scenarios (two sets of dashed lines), the separation lasts alternatively for 6 weeks or 10 weeks. In organic farming sows are grouped in week 2 of lactation, whereas in intensive production 1, sows are in crates for 4 weeks after AI. In intensive production 2, sows are grouped upon mating
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Fig1: Illustration of social separation and thereby isolation of the sow from her group in different production scenarios; in organic farming (solid line), the separation lasts for three weeks only, whereas in the most common two intensive production scenarios (two sets of dashed lines), the separation lasts alternatively for 6 weeks or 10 weeks. In organic farming sows are grouped in week 2 of lactation, whereas in intensive production 1, sows are in crates for 4 weeks after AI. In intensive production 2, sows are grouped upon mating

Mentions: In nature, sows spend almost their whole life in groups; -the only exception is an isolation of about nine to eleven9-11 days around the time of farrowing (Fig. 1; [9, 10]). This is fairly close to the three3 week isolation practiced in the organic farming. On the contrary, in modern intensive housing practices, isolation for six6 toor ten10 weeks appears more common. This period spans the limits of the social memory of a sow. In addition, reunion of sows into a group during lactation may provide with a better chance to induce an early oestrus and insemination with reasonable outcome [22]. This would provide the farmer with a chance to speed up the production cycle;-and a modest reduction in litter size. The reduction in litter size may be considered as a favorable outcome in extensive environment, where the responsibility of taking care of the litter lies more on the sow than on human handling. This paper will focus on the effect of isolation and group housing on reproductive physiology of the sow. The effects of group housing on sow health is discussed in an accompanying paper (Maes et al. 2015, unpublished).Fig. 1


Reproduction of group-housed sows
Illustration of social separation and thereby isolation of the sow from her group in different production scenarios; in organic farming (solid line), the separation lasts for three weeks only, whereas in the most common two intensive production scenarios (two sets of dashed lines), the separation lasts alternatively for 6 weeks or 10 weeks. In organic farming sows are grouped in week 2 of lactation, whereas in intensive production 1, sows are in crates for 4 weeks after AI. In intensive production 2, sows are grouped upon mating
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5382509&req=5

Fig1: Illustration of social separation and thereby isolation of the sow from her group in different production scenarios; in organic farming (solid line), the separation lasts for three weeks only, whereas in the most common two intensive production scenarios (two sets of dashed lines), the separation lasts alternatively for 6 weeks or 10 weeks. In organic farming sows are grouped in week 2 of lactation, whereas in intensive production 1, sows are in crates for 4 weeks after AI. In intensive production 2, sows are grouped upon mating
Mentions: In nature, sows spend almost their whole life in groups; -the only exception is an isolation of about nine to eleven9-11 days around the time of farrowing (Fig. 1; [9, 10]). This is fairly close to the three3 week isolation practiced in the organic farming. On the contrary, in modern intensive housing practices, isolation for six6 toor ten10 weeks appears more common. This period spans the limits of the social memory of a sow. In addition, reunion of sows into a group during lactation may provide with a better chance to induce an early oestrus and insemination with reasonable outcome [22]. This would provide the farmer with a chance to speed up the production cycle;-and a modest reduction in litter size. The reduction in litter size may be considered as a favorable outcome in extensive environment, where the responsibility of taking care of the litter lies more on the sow than on human handling. This paper will focus on the effect of isolation and group housing on reproductive physiology of the sow. The effects of group housing on sow health is discussed in an accompanying paper (Maes et al. 2015, unpublished).Fig. 1

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The sow is a social animal in her behavior throughout the reproductive cycle. An exception to her preference for being a part of a social group occurs one to two1–2 d days prior to farrowing, when she separates from her group and seeks for isolation in order to build up a nest. She then spends the first week or two with her piglets, mainly in the nest. After this short period of separation of 1–2 weeks, she brings her litter with her and rejoins the group. In modern intensive pig production, the sow is often restricted to an individual cage for lactation and, in many European countries, she may still spend additional periods in stalls during pregnancy. In the intensive production, isolation of the sow from the rest of the group is therefore a relatively long period of six to ten6-10 weeks, which creates a challenge for the social memory of the sow. While grouping of sows during lactation is an interesting option, until now this is encountered mostly in organic or otherwise extensive farming systems, such as outdoor farming. However, the present society is asking for more animal friendly models of production and there appears to be more need for studies of group housing issues during lactation. Grouping of sows after weaning causes stress, which imposes risks for fertility. Thus, timing of grouping is probably very critical. It is well documented that the embryonic period of the pregnancy, lasting up to Day 35, is more vulnerable for loss of pregnancy than the subsequent fetal period. There are indications that stress of grouping may cause some harm to vitality parameters of blastocysts already while at the site of fertilization in the oviduct. Later on, during the critical periods of maternal recognition of pregnancy, endocrinological models testing maintenance of pregnancy suggest that chronic stress lasting for more than two2 days may cause abortion and loss of the whole litter. However, the sow may be resistant, in terms of her reproductive function, to acute stress lasting for hours or up to a day. In conclusion, grouping of sows during lactation may be of interest in the future. At present, issues of group housed sows after weaning and early pregnancy seem to be of most practical relevance. Chronic stress of sows lasting for more than two2 days may lead to loss of the whole litter.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus