Browsing Food Programme by Subject "Group size"
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Effect of space allowance and mixing on growth performance and body lesions of grower-finisher pigs in pens with a single wet-dry feederBackground: Low space allowance (SA) and mixing may result in reduced growth performance (GP) and animal welfare issues because of adverse social behaviours directed to pen mates. This could be exacerbated in pens with single space feeders owing to social facilitation of feeding behaviour. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of SA and mixing on GP and body lesions (BL) in pens with one single space wet-dry feeder. Results: Two experiments were conducted on grower-finisher pigs from 10 to 21 weeks of age. In Exp1, pigs (N = 216) were assigned to three SA; 0.96m2/pig (n = 6 pens; 10 pigs/pen; SA96), 0.84m2/pig (n = 6; 12 pigs/pen; SA84) and 0.72m2/pig (n = 6; 14 pigs/pen; SA72), in a randomized design. In Exp2, pigs (N = 230) were used in a 2 × 2 factorial randomized design considering SA and mixing as treatments. Pigs were assigned to two SA; 0.96m2/pig (n = 10 pens; 10 pigs/pen; SA96) and 0.78 m2/pig (n = 10; 13 pigs/pen; SA78) and were either mixed or not at the entry to the finishing facility. GP was not affected by SA (P > 0.05) in either experiment. In Exp2, non-mixed pigs were 5.4 kg heavier (P < 0.001), gained 74 g more per day (P = 0.004), consumed 101.8 g more of feed per day (P = 0.007) and tended to have higher feed efficiency (P = 0.079) than mixed pigs from 11 to 21 weeks of age. Number of BL was affected by SA in both experiments. In Exp1, SA72 pigs had 74.4 and 97.4% more BL than SA96 and SA84 pigs at 20 weeks of age respectively (P < 0.01). In Exp2, SA78 pigs had 48.6, 43.6 and 101.3% more BL than SA96 pigs at 12, 16 and 21 weeks of age respectively (P < 0.05). Mixing did not affect the number of BL from 12 to 21 weeks of age in Exp2 (P > 0.05). Conclusion: Mixing had a considerable effect on growth performance thus, strategies to avoid or mitigate mixing should be considered. Although space allowance had no effect on growth performance, high number of body lesions in the lower space allowance indicates that space allowances equal or below 0.78 m2/pig are detrimental to the welfare of pigs despite following the EU legislation. Keywords: Animal welfare, Group size, Pig, Regrouping, Stocking density, Swine