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Water intake and drinking behavior of pregnant sows

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  2012 IX International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES IX)  ILES12-0790.(doi:10.13031/2013.41648)
Authors:   Melanie Junge, Daniel Herd, Dagmar Jezierny, Eva Gallmann, Thomas Jungbluth
Keywords:   Sow, drinking behavior, group housing

Especially in growing stocks, detection of upcoming health problems in individuals when housing pregnant sows in groups is difficult. Madsen and Kristensen (2005) already demonstrated that drinking pattern could be used to detect upcoming health problems with an online-monitoring system. Therefore, the aim of this collaborative research project is to use water intake but also feed intake and animal activity as indicators for monitoring health and behavior of pregnant sows. Animal welfare should be improved by developing, implementing and evaluating an on-line monitoring system using the mentioned indicators. To gain better knowledge about influencing parameters such as drinker types and diversity of individual drinking behavior a preliminary experiment was carried out. Hence within three weeks three different drinker types were tested in a dynamic herd of 50 group housed sows. Water consumption was measured and drinking behavior was observed by a video camera. Daily pattern of drinking events seemed to show a biphasic rhythm, but levels of water flow were different. Sows showed not just different drinking behavior but also volume flow per drinking event differed considerably. Drinker types seemed to have an influence on both water spillage and drinking behavior. The results of this experiment indicate that further research is needed concerning other influences on sows` water intake such as temperature, group structure and management. Nevertheless validation of water intake as an indicator made progress. Hereafter interactions of the three indicators need to be explored and the online-monitoring system needs to be developed, implemented and evaluated.

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