Postural Behaviour in Gilts Housed on Concrete and Rubber Slats During four Seasons

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Abstract

In the present study, postural behaviour was compared between gilts kept in service unit with different types of flooring during all seasons. The study included four 28-day production cycles and 10 gilts per cycle, equally divided into a control and an experimental group. Control gilts were housed in gestation stalls with slatted concrete floor, whereas in the experimental group the floor was covered with an adjusted rubber mat. Postural behaviour of gilts was observed 4 times per cycle for 4 hours. Study results showed that during cooler seasons, gilts in concrete stalls spent more time standing and lying sternally, whereas gilts in matted stalls were mostly lying, predominantly laterally (P<0.001 all). There were no significant between group differences according to the time the gilts spent sitting or the frequency of changing posture in any season observed. Nevertheless, experimental animals spent significantly less time changing standing to both lying positions during all seasons (P<0.01 all). In conclusion, rubber mats may improve lying comfort in gilts; however, when using rubber mats, the house thermal conditions should be taken in consideration.

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