Fynn, M., Crow, G., Connor, L. 2021. Pre-farrow enrichment with burlap sheet: potential benefit for sow performance. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 101(4), 781-787.

Burlap has been proposed as an enrichment option for the conventional farrowing crate environment. Our objectives were to determine if burlap sheets hung in farrowing crates were used by sows and piglets and had any effect on farrowing and litter performance. Before sow entry, a sterilized burlap sheet (165 cm × 60 cm) was attached to every second farrowing crate so that it hung to the floor with easy animal access. Its length was measured immediately after farrowing and weaning. Routine sow and litter information from farrowing to weaning (day 18) were recorded. Complete data were analyzed for mixed-parity sows and litters with burlap (BURL; n = 277) and without burlap (CTRL; n = 277). Sows and their litters manipulated the burlap sheet to varying degrees. The BURL sows had a lower percentage of stillbirths (6.5% vs. 8.3%, BURL vs. CTRL, SE 0.4; P = 0.004), although there was only a trend towards more born alive (13.00 vs. 12.54, SE 0.25; P = 0.113). More piglets were fostered off BURL sows (8.4 vs. 7.1, SE 0.5; P = 0.049). No significant differences were apparent for other sow and litter measurements. Burlap sheets as a farrowing crate enrichment have potential to improve sow and litter performance.

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