Effects of Farrowing Stall Layout on Piglet Productivity and Behavior

  • Hongwei Xin (University of Tennessee)
  • Brett Ramirez orcid logo (Iowa State University)
  • Tami Brown-Brandl (University of Nebraska)
  • Somak Dutta (Iowa State University)
  • Gary Rohrer (US Meat Animal Research Center)
  • Suzanne Leonard (Iowa State University)


This large-scale field study evaluated the effects farrowing stall environment on piglet productivity and behavior. Three farrowing stall layouts were tested (T – traditional, C – expanded creep area, S – expanded sow area) in conjunction with one or two heat lamps (1HL or 2HL). Production data were collected on the number of piglets live at birth, percent stillborn, percent preweaning piglet mortality, percent over-lay (crushing), number of piglets weaned, average daily weight gain, and litter uniformity. The only productivity difference found was in percent stillborn (p = 0.045); however, it was of small magnitude and not of practical significance. Piglet behavior data were collected and processed with a custom imaging system. Each farrowing stall was divided into three regions: heated region directly below the heat lamp (Rheated), unheated regions of the creep (Rcreep), and sow stall region (Rsow). The proportion of piglets within each farrowing stall region were analyzed and compared on select days of lactation. Piglets in the 2HL treatment spent a significantly greater amount of time in Rheated compared to the 1Hl treatment (p<0.001). Time in Rheated, Rcreep, and Rsow were all influenced by stall layout (p<0.03). Results from this study indicate that dimensions of farrowing stall components do influence piglet behavior and the provision of a second heat lamp results in piglets increasing time spent in the heated area. These behavioral changes due to the farrowing stall environment did not result in differences in productivity. The addition of a second heat lamp or larger creep or sow stall areas produced changes in piglet behavior, but there were no significant changes in productivity metrics.   

Keywords: heat lamp, mortality, swine

How to Cite:

Xin, H., Ramirez, B., Brown-Brandl, T., Dutta, S., Rohrer, G. & Leonard, S., (2022) “Effects of Farrowing Stall Layout on Piglet Productivity and Behavior”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 18(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.12249



Published on
25 Jan 2022
Peer Reviewed
Public Domain