- Department of Rural Buildings and Animal Husbandry [LBT], Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Olsson, Anne-Charlotte; Andersson, Mats; Rantzer, Dan; Botermans, Jos; Lörincz, Annika
The production level in Swedish pig production is high, but their ability to compete in comparison with other countries is weak, because the Swedish production costs are high. Particularly poor is the competitiveness of Swedish piglet production, whereas growing-finishing pig production generally manages better. Those production costs which are especially high in Sweden are for buildings and labour. In this report, the results of work studies carried out in piglet producing herds with farrowing pens constructed after 2000, are reported. The herds were chosen in consultation with Swedish Meats/Scan AB. The aim of the studies was to focus on the farrowing pen, and how its’ design affected the time necessary for manure removal and management of the piglets. The work studies were thus divided into two separate work operations: work operation 1) the removal of manure and checking/monitoring the piglets, and work operation 2) managing/handling the piglets. In each herd, the work operations have been carried out continually within a number of farrowing pens per farrowing unit. The time for the different activities (transport outside the pen, transport inside the pen, work with gates, work with boards, work with doors/hatches, dunging out and the monitoring and management of the piglets) has been noted using a hand-held computer (PSION). All the practical work with manure removal and animal management has been done by the same individual in all the herds (Person 1). Similarly, all the notations with the computer have been carried out by the same observer in all the herds (Person 2). A total of 16 herds have been visited 1-2 times each. At the visit, besides the work studies, the owner/stock person has been interviewed with respect to herd management, farrowing pen design and cleaning, routines and management of the piglets, etc. In addition, the farrowing pens in every herd have been measured and photo-documented in detail. The farrowing pens in the 16 herds have been divided into two different types: pens without a protective bar system (Pen A) and pens with a protective bar system which can be used to limit the sow’s movements, if necessary (Pen B). In Figures 1-7, the plans and photographs of all the Pen A farrowing pens are shown, whereas similar documentation for Pen B is given in Figures 8-16. All the pens without a protective bar system (Pen A) were also used for rearing the pigs during the first weeks after weaning (the so-called not-moved system), while the piglets in the farrowing pens with a protective bar system (Pen B) were moved at weaning (the so-called moved system). The pens in the moved system were somewhat smaller, had a higher proportion of slatted floors, and had the dung removed more often using vacuum manure removal than did the pens in the not moved system (Table 1). The hygiene scores for the solid floors were, however, on average, the same for both pen systems (0.44 and 0.43, respectively)(Table 1): Besides having two pen types A or B, the pens were also classified according to the proportion of slatted flooring (< 45 % of the total pen area having slatted floors, and > 45 % of the total pen area having slatted floors). They were also classified according to the orientation of the pen to the inspection alley (front, back or side oriented). The results of the time studies of work operation 1 (manure removal and piglet monitoring) are shown in in diagram form per herd Figure 17.. It can be seen from the Figure that there is a large variation between the herds and that the time spent for dunging out sometimes was nearly half of the entire work operation. On average, it was observed that the work operation for dunging out in total required 0.84 min per pen and occasion, while just scraping out the dung required on average circa 0.44 min per pen. The remainder of the time was spent opening gates, hatches, transport between pens, etc. In general, there was a significant correlation between the hygiene score for the solid areas of the pen and the time spent on manure removal and the entire work operation, respectively (Table 2). Irrespective of pen type, it was also clear that having a good pen hygiene reduced the work related to manure removal. The total time for work operation 1 was also significantly affected by the proportion of slatted floors in the pen, being faster if the proportion was greater. Since Pen A on average had somewhat less slatted areas, a rather longer time for this work operation was noted for this pen type in comparison with that for Pen B. In the statistical analyses, where consideration was also given to the proportion of slatted floors in the model, it was found, however, that this difference was not significant. Within pen type A, the variation in time spent in work operation 1 was also especially great between the different herds (Figure 17), and it should be noted that the shortest time for the activity “manure removal” was noted for a type A farrowing pen. A statistically significant difference between Pens A and B, to the detriment of Pen A, was, however, noted for the activity “management of gates”. This was mainly due to the necessity of entering the pen for manure removal, because Pen A had about 35% greater solid floor area than pen B. In Pen B, at least in some pen design variations, it was possible to reach the whole solid area from the inspection path outside the pen. This greatly reduced the time spent handling gates. For the forward oriented pen, a significantly shorter time for monitoring the piglets as well as a tendency for spending a shorter amount of time for gate management was noted (Table 4). The shorter time for gate management was due to the routine for dunging out the forward oriented pens completely from outside the pens (Figure 18), which was used in many herds. With respect to work operation 2 (piglet management) a tendency towards a negative relationship between the time required for this work operation and work operation 1 could be shown. That is, in the pens where the manure removal was quickly and efficiently performed, it took, instead, somewhat longer time to manage/handle the piglets (Table 5). On average, the work operation “handling piglets” took 2.47 min per pen (when standardised to 11 pigs per pen). That is, nearly 3 times as long as time required for manure removal. Collecting and management the piglet in this way, however, was carried out significantly less often than the manure operation; often only on 1-2 occasions per litter in connection with castration, iron treatment and teeth filing. The entire work operation 2, management of animals, was carried out significantly faster in Pen A (without a protective bar system). This could possibly be explained by the tendency to use more time for managing gates, because sometimes the protective bar system had to be opened or moved in order to get the piglets (Table 6), as noted for the pens with the protective bar system. The proportion of slatted floors in the pens had no significant influence on how quickly the management of the piglets was carried out (Table 6). Nor did the factor “orientation of pen in relation to the inspection alley” appear to have any significant influence on the time required to manage the pigs (work operation 2) (Table 7). On the other hand, there was a tendency that the piglet management was carried out somewhat faster in the side oriented pens (Table 7). How then can we summarise what we have learned in the present study about the optimal design of a farrowing pen? As in many other situations it can be concluded that there are many conflicts between the different aims which one wants to achieve! It is clear that an increase in the proportion of slatted flooring in the pen will reduce the time for removing the dung. However, a increase in slatted floor area, leads to a corresponding reduction in the amount of bedding material used. On the other hand, no significant difference in the time required for manure removal between the pens where the sow was always free to move around (not moved system, Pen A), and where the pens had a protective bar system to be used at farrowing (moved system, Type B) can be determined. The piglets are, however, managed significantly faster in Pen A due to a better gate system for locking the piglets in their creep area. The orientation of the pen also appears to have some influence on the dung removal activity (work operation 1). In the side oriented pens, this activity appears to be somewhat more difficult in comparison with the front or the back oriented pens. The significantly higher hygiene score in the side oriented pens may explain this observation. The interpretation is unclear, but it may be that it is more difficult to have optimal ventilation in the side oriented pens. The length of the alleys in a farrowing unit with side oriented pens is also longer, since it is necessary to go past the long side of the pen and not the short side when transporting past the pens, as for the other orientations. In some of the newer front oriented pens, shorter times for the removal of dung (work operation 1) have been observed. This depends on, among other things, being able to scrape the solid area from outside the pen, which greatly reduced the time required for managing the gates. It should, however, be noted that even if the pen normally can be scraped from outside, sometimes it is necessary to enter the pen to do it more carefully, or in order to manage the piglets. Where there was no flexibility in the form of having gates in the dung alley was considered to be irritating, “cheap” and clearly a working environment shortcoming by many of the stockpersons in the study. The greater proportion of slatted floors in the farrowing pen permitted according to the Animal Welfare Regulations of 2006 (DFS 2006:4), clearly appeared to reduce the amount of work in connection with manure removal in these piglet herds. A good pen hygiene also reduced the time for dung removal work. A general effort to maintain good hygiene in the pen, irrespective of pen type, could therefore be another important measure of importance for dung removal work. In some of the visited herds they had distinct management instructions for how to keep a good pen hygiene. Such instructions could be, for example, to always clean up wet solid areas in the pen and and to help this areas to dry by putting on materials such as wood shavings or Stalosan. It should also be considered that the manure removal itself only constitutes about half of the time required for the entire work operation. Therefore, reducing the time for handling gates and hatches in the dung alley, etc. would be other important measures for reducing the work effort in connection with pen cleaning. This did not mean, however, that the pens should be designed without gates! A lack of gates when the stockperson really needs to come into the pen to treat ill animals, etc., is experienced by the stockperson as being a great disadvantage. The consequences could therefore be instead that the stockperson avoided entering the pen when necessary to maintain a good animal care. This could, besides being poor husbandry, lead to undesirable negative effects on production. The study presented here indicates a number of details in the farrowing pen which are of importance for manure removal work and for work with the management of the piglets. In the discussion, several factors have been taken up which must be considered when deciding which farrowing pen-/not moved pen should be chosen (see Discussion). The final choice is made by the piglet producer. Our hope is, however, that the presented study can help the individual piglet producer to make this decision.
grisar; grisningsboxar; grisningsbox; arbetstid; grisproduktion
Landskap, trädgård, jordbruk : rapportserie
2009, number: 2009:4
Publisher: Fakulteten för landskapsplanering, trädgård- och jordbruksvetenskap, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Animal and Dairy Science