Ambassador: Anonymous, France
Publication date: February 2020 | Theme: Animal welfare
Challenges: Strategies to reduce aggression between animals
When piglets are mixed with other litters during lactation, it facilitates adaptation at weaning, reduces scratches and improves growth rates in the nursery accommodation, this French producer has found.
Piglets from five different litters are able to move from one farrowing pen to another during lactation, via openings created in the panels, measuring 20 cm x 30 cm. The openings are closed during the first week of life, then opened up so that piglets from five farrowing pens can be mixed and familiarised during the rest of lactation period.
At weaning, pens of 26 piglets are formed. Five days after arrival in the nursery, 26% of the familiarised piglets have scratches, while 98% of unfamiliarised piglets have scratches. Familiarised piglets show better growth over the 12-day period after weaning, at 552 g/day compared to 442 g/day for unfamiliarised piglets.
- The growth rate of piglets increased by 25%
- Piglets were 1 kg heavier 12 days post weaning
- Piglets were 1.7 kg heavier at slaughter
- The percentage of piglets with scratches 48 hours post weaning had reduced from 98% to 26%
- The total costs of producing one piglet were reduced by 1.9%
- The costs for the farmer are very low
- The famers may need to spend time getting used to the new system but costs of labour will not change
Innovation in practice
A farm in France set out to reduce aggression in pigs by introducing the early socialisation of piglets from different litters during the lactation period.
Openings (20 cm X 30 cm) were made in the divides between pens in the farrowing house. Doors were placed over these openings during the first week of lactation in order to keep the piglets with their maternal sow and then the doors were removed enabling the piglets to move between the pens.
This enabled piglets from five different pens to mix freely and thus facilitated a smooth transition to mixing at weaning. It also provided the piglets with more space to explore. The piglets could be easily separated if needed by adding the doors back on.
More about this best practice
To access more information, contact RPIG (France): Fabien Verliat