The Effect of Exercise on Lactating Sow Performance
Higgins, Erinn E.
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The objective of this study was to determine the effect of light, daily exercise on body condition score (BCS), soundness (SS), injury (IS), lesions (LS) weaning wt (WW), and back fat (BF) of lactating sows housed in farrowing crates. A total of 24 sows were used in four trials. Body weight (BW), BF, BCS, SS, IS, and LS were recorded at placement into the farrowing barn and again at weaning. A scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) was used for BCS, SS, and IS. Prior to farrowing, sows were grouped by BW and parity, and assigned to control (no exercise) or experimental (exercise) groups. After farrowing, the exercise sows (n=3) were removed from their crates for 1h/d for 17-19 d and encouraged to exercise; the control sows (n=3) remained in crates 24h/d. Saliva samples were collected 30 min prior to exercise and at 30 and 60 min after exercise for cortisol analysis. Piglets were weaned between 18 and 26 days of age. No difference was found between treatments for sow WW, BCS, IS, average daily feed intake, weaning litter wt, day 7 wt/d of age or piglet survivability. Exercise sows were leaner, sounder, and had more lesions at weaning than control sows (P<0.05). Exercise sows also had higher levels of salivary cortisol on average than control sows (P<0.05). These results indicate that increased movement of sows during lactation led to a decrease in back fat and an increase in soundness, with no affect on piglets.
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