Two studies assessed sow and litter performance when design features of farrowing huts varied. A fender is a structure that extends out the front of the hut to create a veranda that prevents young piglets from leaving. In Exp. 1, 206 lactating sows and their litters were used to assess litter performance and the time required to process litters for two fender designs (short wooden [WS] vs. tall metal with a board front [MT-b]) and insulation status (insulated [IN] vs. uninsulated [UN]) farrowing huts. A significant fender x insulation interaction was observed for total litter weaning weight. Lighter litters weaned (P = 0.013) from WS fenders with UN huts compared with the other treatments. Fender design did not (P > 0.05) influence the time required to process a litter with one stockperson. Less total time (P = 0.001) was required to process a litter when two people were present (10.60 ± 0.74 min) compared with one stockperson (14.52 ± 0.74 min). There were no (P > 0.05) differences between IN and UN huts for temperature and relative humidity measurements. In Exp. 2, 331 lactating sows and their litters were used to determine sow and litter performance when using one of two fender front designs (boards [MT-b] vs. roller [MT-r]). The front design of the fender did not influence (P > 0.05) most litter performance measures. We conclude that fender design, fender fronts, and insulation effects did not have large influences on sow and litter performance in a West Texas environment.
- Farrowing House