Zhang, X., Li, C., Hao, Y. et al. 2020. Effects of different farrowing environments on the behavior of sows and piglets. Animals 10(2), 320.
We investigated the effect of different farrowing systems on the behavior of sows and piglets. In total, 22 hybrid sows (Yorkshire × Landrace) were randomly assigned into three farrowing systems, farrowing crate (FC), free farrowing pen with sloping walls (FFS), and free farrowing pen with sloping walls and nest materials (FFSN). The FFS and FFSN sows were more active, and exhibited less abnormal behaviors compared with the FC sows before and after parturition. FFS and FFSN piglets were more active compared with FC piglets. The increased activity of the FFS and FFSN sows might encourage the activity of their piglets, resulting in more proximity to sow behavior of their piglets. Providing nest materials improved the investigative behavior of sows and piglets. The total mortality of piglets in the free farrowing systems tended to be higher compared with the farrowing crate system. In conclusion, free farrowing system has beneficial effects on the behavior of sows and piglets but extra care in management needs to be taken to avoid piglet loss. Adding nest material in the farrowing pens is suggested to enrich the behavioral pattern of sows and piglets.