Investigating Environmental Temperature Preference of Group-Housed Sows Fed High-Fibre Diets

Authors: Predicala, B., A. Alvarado, J. Brown, D. Beaulieu, L. Moreno
Description: The goal of this study was to develop management practices that will allow pig producers to benefit from housing sows in groups. Since thermoregulatory behaviour is possible for grouped sows, they can potentially tolerate temperatures less than the published lower critical temperature (LCT) for pigs, thereby leading to reduction in heating and ventilation energy costs. The use of high-fibre diets, which are known to improve satiety, decrease overall activity, and repetitive behaviours in sows, was also investigated. The study was designed to develop an operant mechanism that would allow group-housed sows to maintain their preferred environmental temperature, and to study the physiological effects of dietary fibre addition on sow metabolism and thermoregulatory behaviour. An operant mechanism that allowed sows to control their environmental temperature was devised. The mechanism was installed in two controlled-environment chambers at the Prairie Swine Centre barn facility. Results from three trials conducted in the chambers showed that sows fed with high-fibre diets tended to prefer lower ambient temperatures (12.5 °C on average) in the chamber than those fed with the standard gestation diet (13.4 °C). This treatment approach was then implemented and evaluated in actual gestation rooms and results showed that sows fed high-fibre diets could tolerate room temperature as low as 9 °C. Furthermore, maintaining gestation rooms at lower environmental temperature resulted in reductions in energy consumption for heating and ventilation of approximately 78%. Initial results also showed a slight reduction in growth performance in sows fed with high-fibre diet and maintained at lower temperatures. The overall effect of this management approach on sow physiology and overall performance will be assessed further in subsequent trials.
Keywords: swine, sow housing, environmental temperature, high-fibre diet, operant mechanism
Technical field: Building Systems Engineering
Conference name: CSBE/SCGAB 2015 Annual Conference, Edmonton, AB, 5-8 July 2015.
Session name: Biosystem Management III - Structures and Environment
Citation: Predicala, B., A. Alvarado, J. Brown, D. Beaulieu, L. Moreno. 2015. Investigating environmental temperature preference of group-housed sows fed with high-fibre diets. CSBE/SCGAB 2015 Annual Conference, Edmonton, AB, 5-8 July 2015.
Publisher: Canadian Society for Bioengineering
Date: 2015-07-05
Publication type:
  • Technical conference
Type: Text.Article
Identifier: CSBE15051
Coverage: Canada
Language 1: en
Rights: Canadian Society for Bioengineering

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