DES MOINES, Iowa — Aggression among group-housed sows is a widely recognized problem as well as a threat to animal welfare and performance. At the American Society of Animal Science meeting in Des Moines this week, Yuzhi Li, assistant professor of swine production, University of Minnesota, offered insights on improving performance and welfare of young sows in a group-housing system.

“Young sows usually lose most fights and suffer more injuries than mature sows at mixing in most group-housing systems,” according to Li. “Protecting young sows in group-housing helps reduce injuries and improve their welfare.”

Li found that Parity 1 (P1) sows, when housed with gilts, had lower injury scores after mixing, gained more weight during gestation and had higher farrowing rates compared with P1 sows housed in pens with multi-parous sows. In addition, housing P1 sows with gilts does not have adverse effects on the gilts.

“By housing P1 sows with gilts, producers can improve farrowing rates and improve animal welfare in group systems,” says Li.