NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
(306) 966-7151
WCVM, UofS, 52 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, SK

Effects of sow grouping practices on reproductive performance and piglet development

Research Team:

  • MSc Student: Jessica Vehof
  • Postdoc: Dr. Karen Mancera
  • Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Brown
  • Project Members: Yolande Seddon, WCVM, University of Saskatchewan; Daniel MacPhee, WCVM, University of Saskatchewan

Funding Agency:

Project Timeline:

  • May 2021- April 2023


Canadian pork producers are transitioning from housing sows in gestation stalls to group housing systems to better meet the expectations of consumers and to improve animal welfare. The group management system may cause different stressors on sows, that may in turn affect reproductive performance and produce post-natal effects on the piglets, which could confer positive or negative effects, depending on the timing of the pre-natal stressor. Understanding the impacts of group housing practices on the welfare and physiology of the sows and their piglets is important as producers convert to group housing systems.

Project Objectives:

To determine how gestation grouping practice (static vs dynamic) influence sow welfare, productivity and piglet vitality, through;

  • comparing sows mixed into either static or dynamic groups shortly after insemination with sows mixed post-implantation into static groups.
  • Evaluating the impact of pre-natal stressors experienced in a group gestation environment (dynamic mixing vs. static grouping) on piglet development, behaviour and response to stressors.

Value of this research:

Results will identify how grouping practices influence sow and piglet welfare and productivity. Knowledge can support producers to identify optimal group sow management practices to improve both sow and piglet welfare, productivity and the efficiency of livestock production.

Links to results:

Results available in Jessica Vehof’s MSc Thesis.