Pig Pen Hygiene - Soiling the Lying/Sleeping Area of the Pen


Pigs are naturally clean - excreting away from where they lie - they don't like to lie in faeces.
So why do they suddenly start dunging their sleeping area?

read on...

*Is there any scouring?   *Are pigs getting too hot?   *Is pen design at fault?
*Mastitis Metritis Agalactia (MMA)?   *Literature   *Your experiences?





Is there any Scouring?

Pigs will sometimes going to the toilet and contaminate their sleeping area if they are too ill or in too much pain to move away for elimination. More commonly they may be "taken short" by a sudden surge of diarrhoea. Check the rear of the pigs for faecal soiling.

*Causes of diarrhea in pigs


Are pigs getting too hot?

Growing and finishing pigs may suddenly begin soiling their sleeping area during hot weather. They lie in the cooler dunging area, leaving space for elimination in the sleeping area - the two areas become increasingly confused. They may actually "wallow" in dung and urine if a more suitable facility for thermoregulation is not available.

Remedy is to provide cooling ventilation of the sleeping area in hot weather or provide misting water sprayers or wallows to help pigs keep cool. Sprinklers are sometimes provided over the slats (in partially slatted pens) to encourage pigs to move there for cooling in hot weather. It helps to keep the sleeping area clean. Dunging in the sleeping area can also be discouraged by some floor feeding there.


Is pen design at fault?

Key aspects of pen design leading to hygienic eliminative behaviour are:

*Clear demarcation of sleeping & lying areas

*Sleeping area not too big - part may be used as toilet if cold outside

*Dunging area at least 25% of lying area

*Dunging area floor less comfortable for lying

*Direct cold incoming away from lying area

*Position drinkers in dunging area

*Feeders in dunging area

*No overcrowding - pigs can move freely to dung area

*Good drainage of sleeping area


Mastitis, Metritis Agalactia (MMA) syndrome in sows

Mastitis, metritis and agalactia (MMA) are a group of three disease symptoms, which can occur separately or in combination, in sows 1-3 days after farrowing. Besides illness and pain in the sow, there may be a serious problem of starvation, reduced growth and increased mortality in her nursing litter of piglets. Key predisposing factors are poor hygiene around farrowing, inhibition of natural excretory behaviour, overweight sows and excessive feeding in late pregnancy.


Key Literature on Pig Pen Hygiene (most recent first)

"The Social Behavior of Pigs" by Dr. Harold W. Gonyou, Prairie Swine Center, Canada, in Social Behaviour in Farm Animals   Review

"Effects of space allocation and temperature on periparturient maternal behaviors, steroid concentrations, and piglet growth rates" (1996) by Biensen, N.J., Borell, E.H. von and Ford, S.P. Journal of Animal Science 74   2641-2648.

"Behaviour of groups of weaner pigs in three different housing systems" (1989) by McKinnon, A.J., Edwards, S.A., Stephens, D.B. and Walters, D.E. British Veterinary Journal 145   367-372.

Your Views & Experiences?

If you have any comments or experiences to add to the above, please contact us


Author: Dr. Michael Meredith

Acknowledgements: Contributions from Harold Gonyou Ethology Scientist at the Prairie Swine Centre (Canada), Dale Arey of the Scottish Agricultural Colleges, Nick White of Pig Advisory Services (UK) & Susanne Waiblinger of Institute of Animal Husbandry &Welfare, University of Vet. Medicine, Vienna are gratefully acknowledged.



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