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Researchers Look to Straw Based Feed to Reduce Aggression Among Group Housed Sows
Dr. Denise Beaulieu - University of Saskatchewan

Farmscape for April 7, 2017

Researchers are evaluating the potential for straw based feed supplements to reduce the level of aggression among gestating sows in group sow housing systems.
As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, feeding trials are now underway to assess the effect of feed supplements, developed by scientists with the University of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Feed Research Centre in North Battleford, made of compressed wheat straw and oat straw, on the behavior and performance of gestating sows housed in groups.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu, an Assistant Professor in Monogastric Nutrition with the University of Saskatchewan, explains we would think about adding straw because the sows are hungry all the time and they don't get feed as much as they would like to eat because we want to maintain a proper weight.

Clip-Dr. Denise Beaulieu-University of Saskatchewan:
When we move the sows into groups that allows them to have some social interactions with each another but one of the negative factors is, because they do get hungry throughout the day, that might cause some aggression or it might cause some sows to, depending on the feeding system, to eat more feed than they're allowed and or there might be some aggression.
So we're using straw to provide a feeling of satiety or fullness to the sows without adding a lot of extra calories to the diet.
The previous work has shown that, if you do add straw to the diet, they do feel fuller but for a short period of time so it doesn't last too long but it does make them feel full so it is a viable solution to decreasing some of this hunger associated aggression that they might have.

Dr. Beaulieu says some of the sows really like to eat the straw but others don't so, just as in people, there are variable preferences.
She hopes to have the results from the feeding trials and behavioral analysis this summer with analysis of blood samples this fall with a full report anticipated by late fall or early winter.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.


       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork

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