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The welfare of finishing pigs under different housing and feeding systems: Liquid versus dry feeding in fully-slatted and straw-based housing

Lookup NU author(s): Kamara Scott, Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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This study assessed the health and welfare implications of feeding pigs a dry or liquid diet when housed in either fully-slatted or straw-based accommodation. Between April and October 2002, 1024 (Large White × Landrace) × Large White pigs, housed in pens of 32, were fed ad libitum from 34 kg to slaughter at 104 kg liveweight. Data were collected on a range of welfare parameters. Feeding system affected only respiratory health losses. Lameness and tail-biting tended to be more prevalent health conditions in the fully-slatted system, while in the straw-based system pigs showed significantly more enteric and respiratory disease. There were no significant treatment effects on skin lesions or bursitis of the hock. Liquid fed pigs had poorer hygiene scores than dry fed pigs, especially in straw-based housing. Liquid feeding reduced activity level and investigatory behaviours directed towards other pigs. Pigs with straw spent a large proportion of their time manipulating it. Pigs without straw were less active and spent more time manipulating the pen hardware. In post-slaughter assessments, there were no systems differences in lung lesions or osteochandrosis, but other measures differed between housing or feeding systems; pigs with straw had more severe toe erosions on the foot while pigs without straw had more severe heel erosions. Gastric lesions were more pronounced with dry feeding and in the fully-slatted system. The results highlight the relative health and welfare advantages and disadvantages of these systems for finishing pigs. © 2007 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scott K, Chennells DJ, Taylor L, Gill BP, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Welfare

Year: 2007

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Pages: 53-62

Print publication date: 01/02/2007

ISSN (print): 0962-7286

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Universities Federation for Animal Welfare