There's plenty of debate surrounding the use of individual gestation accommodations for dry sows in commercial swine herds, with public perceptions and misconceptions of welfare issues having a potentially dramatic impact on U.S. swine production.
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology has released a new issue paper on the topic - Scientific Assessment of the Welfare of Dry Sows Kept in Individual Accommodations.
"Too few statistically adequate, scientifically controlled trials on industry farms have been conducted; many reports are not useful for critical evaluation," comments Stanley Curtis, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Curtis was task force chair for this project, adding: "More large-scale, on-farm, multidisciplinary, scientifically robust research and development are needed before rigid regulations should be imposed."
The issue paper offers a review of the most pertinent scientific literature on the welfare of dry sows housed in IGAs. The nine-member task force looked at a range of issues including:
- Behaviorial Considerations
- Nutrition and Feeding Considerations
- Reproduction Considerations
- Clinical Examination and Health Considerations
- Manure Management Considerations
- Ergonomic and Worker Safety Considerations
- System Design Considerations
- Future Directions
You can download the full text of the paper by visiting www.cast-science.org.