Effects of group-size-floor space allowance during the nursery phase of production on future litter size and retention of sows through three parities

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Oxford University Press


We previously reported that reduced floor space allowance caused by increasing the number of gilts per pen decreased growth and affected blood chemistry and immunology. The current objective was to determine effects of nursery group-size-floor space allowance on future litter sizes and retention in the breeding herd through three parities in sows. A 3 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments was employed with 2,537 gilts classified as large (6.92 ± 0.06 kg), medium (5.60 ± 0.06 kg), or small (4.42 ± 0.06 kg), and placed in nursery pens of 14, 11, or 8 pigs to allow 0.15, 0.19, or 0.27 m2 floor space/pig, respectively. After the nursery and grow-finish periods, 1,453 gilts selected for breeding were relocated to one of 11 sow farms. Total litter size and pigs born alive increased (P < 0.01) with increasing parity and total litter size was 12.94, 13.28, and 13.99 (SE = 0.13) and pigs born alive was 12.21, 12.64, and 13.23 (SE = 0.11) for Parities 1, 2, and 3, respectively. There was a tendency (P = 0.08) for a quadratic relationship of group-size-floor space allowance and total litter size (13.39, 13.54, and 13.27 [SE = 0.13] for gilts allowed 0.15, 0.19, or 0.27 m2 floor space/pig, respectively). A linear effect of size of pig at weaning (P = 0.03) on pigs born dead was detected and was 0.64, 0.75, and 0.75, for small, medium, and large size pigs, respectively. There was no effect of group-size-floor space allowance on the percentages of gilts completing zero (P = 0.36), one (P = 0.35), two (P = 0.32), or three (P = 0.50) parities. In contrast, the percentage of small gilts that failed to complete one parity was greater (P < 0.05) and the percentage completing one parity (P < 0.05) was less than for either large or medium gilts. Abortion rate was greater (P < 0.01) in gilts classified as small (2.51%) or medium (1.36%) at weaning compared with those classified as large (0.20%). Size at weaning did not affect the proportion of gilts completing two (P = 0.88) or three (P = 0.72) parities. Group-size-floor space allowance during the nursery phase of production did not have remarkable effects on future litter sizes or retention in sows. Likewise, size of pig at weaning did not affect litter size and pigs born alive. Compared with larger pigs, however, more pigs classified as small at weaning and entering the breeding herd did not complete a parity and displayed a greater abortion rate.



floor space, litter size, nursery, pigs, retention