Changing Pen Configuration From Small to Large Pens: How Does this Change Resource Use for the Growing Pig?

  • Leah Gesing (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J. Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Matthew Ritter (Elanco Animal Health)
  • Jim Moody (The Hanor Company)
  • Tara Donovan (The Hanor Company)
  • Eva Jablonski (The Hanor Company)
  • Dave Johnson
  • Angie Johnson


Currently, several large production systems in the U.S. are utilizing large pen configurations of ≥ 200 pigs. Producers who are using this large pen concept often double stock their young pigs from arrival for several weeks and then gates are opened up to create one large pen. Therefore, pigs from smaller pens intermingle with unknown co specifics and also have the possibility of utilizing new feeder and drinker resources. The objective of this study was to determine resource use when smaller pens were reconfigured to a larger pen design for the growing pig. The experiment was conducted in April, 2009. One wean to finish site within a large Midwestern commercial production system was used. All pigs were double-stocked and kept in smaller pen configurations for ~8 wks and then the back gates of eight consecutive pens. A total of 192 pigs in double-stocked pens (96 barrows and 96 gilts) received a unique colored ear tag in their left ear (n = 4 barrows and 4 gilts per small pen that would be opened to a large pen). Immediately upon opening up the swing gates, live observations occurred using an instantaneous 10 min scan sample for 2-hour duration (0800 to 1000-h). The number of pigs at their home feeder or home drinker was recorded along with pigs that were using a new feeder and new drinker respectively. Behavior will be presented descriptively. Within 2-h of opening up the swing gates pigs were visiting “foreign” feeder and drinkers. In conclusion, upon opening gates and creating larger pen configurations, pigs do not prefer their “home” feeder and or drinker over new resources within the pen.

Keywords: ASL R2633

How to Cite:

Gesing, L., Johnson, A. K., Stalder, K. J., Ritter, M., Moody, J., Donovan, T., Jablonski, E., Johnson, D. & Johnson, A., (2011) “Changing Pen Configuration From Small to Large Pens: How Does this Change Resource Use for the Growing Pig?”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-846

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Published on
01 Jan 2011
Peer Reviewed