The Effect of Sows' and Piglets' Behaviour on Piglet Crushing Patterns in Two Different Farrowing Pen Systems.The Effect of Sows’ and Piglets’ Behaviour on Piglet Crushing Patterns in Two Different Farrowing Pen Systems
Pens with farrowing crate (FC) and two differently designed free-farrowing pens (LH-pens: 7.3 m², plastic flooring; GH-pens: 5 m², cast-iron and concrete flooring) were compared regarding piglet losses and postpartum sow behaviour (all treatments) and reasons for piglet crushing and postpartum litter behaviour (LH and GH). One-hundred-and-three crushing events were analysed in eight batches concerning sows' posture changes that crushed piglets and age of crushed piglets. Posture change frequency, amounts of single posture changes and total time spent in different body postures were evaluated for 41 sows (14 FC-sows, 13 LH-sows and 14 GH-sows) in six batches. Litter behaviour (location, active/inactive scoring, resting behaviour next to the sow) was analysed during sows' posture changes and piglet crushing. Piglet mortality was higher in LH (25.6%) and GH (19.9%) compared to FC (12.3%) due to higher levels of piglet crushing. Most crushing occurred during the three days postpartum in LH (92.7%) and GH (83.9%). However, crushing patterns differed between LH (rolling: 68.2%; sit-to-lie: 18.2%; stand-to-lie: 11.4%) and GH (rolling: 38.2%; sit-to-lie: 30.9%; stand-to-lie: 16.4%) and varying piglet behaviour may be the cause for this. The postpartum period was characterized by inactivity of the sow and behavioural differences were rarely seen between systems.