|New welfare friendly farrowing pens for sows and litters|
|Wednesday, 28 July 2010|
New welfare friendly farrowing pens for sows and littersDr Greg Cronin, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney and Associate Professor Inger Lise Andersen, University of Life Sciences, Norway.
The Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the University of Sydney, Faculty of Veterinary Science, are collaborating on a new research project to develop and evaluate a new, welfare-friendly pen for sows at the time of the birth of their piglets (farrowing).
During the 1990s, Dr Greg Cronin developed the Werribee farrowing pen, a loose farrowing pens for sows and litters. The Werribee pen design has been improved by Associate Professor Inger Lise Andersen in Norway, and a new prototype farrowing pen, the UMB farrowing pen, has been imported into Australia. The Norwegian researcher Associate Professor Inger Lise Andersen has made the generous gift of four prototype farrowing pens to the University of Sydney, to be used for collaborative research and teaching of Animal Science and Veterinary Science students.
World-wide, most sows currently give birth to their piglets while confined in small pens (crates) for the protection of piglets. A proportion of piglets die during the first 72 hours after birth because the sow accidently crushes them. To help avoid this situation, farmers during the 1960s developed farrowing crates to help improve the survival chances of piglets. However, in recent times the public has indicated that they prefer sows are not restrained during the birth process or in lactation. Animal scientists have conducted research over the past 3 decades to design farrowing pens that address the welfare requirements of sows around parturition and in lactation, and also improve the survival chance of piglets.
The new UMB farrowing pens utilise thermostatically controlled Amuheat Cable Mat floor heating under the floor to keep the piglets warm in specific zones in the pen. The sow will avoid the warmer floor zones, which assists in keeping the piglets safe from accidental crushing by the sow.