Sign up now!
Don't show this again
Download the report!Continue to Site >
or wait 7 secs

Thank you for confirming your subscription!

(And remember, if ever you want to change your email preferences or unsubscribe, just click on the links at the bottom of any email.)

We’re glad you’re enjoying Pig Health Today.
Access is free but you’ll need to register to view more content.
Already registered? Sign In
Tap to download the app


Collect articles and features into your own report to read later, print or share with others

Create a New Report


Read Later

Create a new report

Report title (required) Brief description (optional)
follow us

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Favorites Read Later My Reports PHT Special Reports
Pig Health Today is equipped with some amazing (and free) tools for organizing and sharing content, as well as creating your own magazines and special reports. To access them, please register today.
Sponsored by Zoetis

Pig Health Today | Sponsored by Zoetis


Tips to improve pen gestation for sows

Many pork producers successfully manage sows in group gestation pens after completing breeding and pregnancy checks in crates. Veterinarians with Four Star Veterinary Service (FSVS) offer management suggestions to help maximize sow productivity in pen gestation.

“Most of our clients are converting to pen gestation,” reported Randy Jones, DVM, FSVS, Kinston, North Carolina. “Some of our better performing farms are pen gestation. After all, we managed sows in pens before we put them in crates.”

Pen size

“Give the sows plenty of space,” stated James Kober, DVM, FSVS, Holland, Michigan. “There are no space regulations in the Michigan law, but there are guidelines available that suggest 18 to 20 square feet per sow. If you get under 18 square feet, sows will start experiencing pregnancy problems.”

If crates are remodeled into pen gestation, utilize the walkway behind the crates for pen space to maximize space per sow. The extra room helps deter fighting.

Reduce fighting

When sows are first mixed, they fight. Kober suggests mixing sows late in the evening, feeding them and then turning off the lights.

“Some producers will mix sows every week and have a dynamic group,” he added. “The sows will fight some, but if the pens are big enough, they can move away.”

Feed and water

Adequate feed and water are vital for sow productivity, especially in pen situations, according to Jones. Boss sows will “hog” the feeders and waterers if not enough are available.

Jones recommends feeding all sows at once in some type of feed stall. The design and size of the feed stall varies among manufacturers and producers. But the important thing is offering some protection for sows while they eat.

“Another aggression point is not enough waterers,” reported Cary Sexton, DVM, FSVS, Kinston, North Carolina. “I’ve had some farms put in additional waterers because of [sow fighting].”

The waterers should be installed on different side panels of the pen to prevent sows from congregating and fighting.

Treat immediately

“I always tell clients if you think there’s anything wrong with a sow, pull her out now and treat her right away,” said JoAnna Kane, DVM, FSVS, Holland, Michigan.

“If you think you can come back later to do it, all the sows will be lying down and you won’t be able to find her.”

Sows needing treatment or time to recover from an injury are moved to individual hospital stalls.


Sows bred for gestation crates may experience leg and feet issues when housed in pens. Genetics will need to address those issues. For Sexton who works with many herds already in pen gestation, that has already occurred.

“Genetics have changed to a much hardier animal,” Sexton said. “The animal I started practicing with early in my career would not handle the competitive nature of today’s group-housing environment.”

Posted on February 3, 2020

tags: ,

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Share It
It’s not unrealistic to say that if you checked the nasal cavities or tonsils of any group of pigs, you would find Strep suis. While the strain and impact can vary widely, this commensal bacterium is on virtually every hog farm.

Click an icon to share this information with your industry contacts.
Google Translate is provided on this website as a reference tool. However, Poultry Health Today and its sponsor and affiliates do not guarantee in any way the accuracy of the translated content and are not responsible for any event resulting from the use of the translation provided by Google. By choosing a language other than English from the Google Translate menu, the user agrees to withhold all liability and/or damage that may occur to the user by depending on or using the translation by Google.