Rubber slat mats could improve animal well-being

July 31, 2013

New research shows that rubber slat mats could improve swine health. In a new study in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers in Europe studied how different types of flooring affects claw and limb lesions, locomotion and flooring cleanliness.

According to the researchers, flooring is one of the main factors in production systems that cause locomotory problems in swine. Locomotory problems can be caused by joint injuries or by in the legs and feet.

Julia Calderón-Díaz, a PhD candidate at University of College Dublin, said pregnant sows placed on cushioned flooring would have a lower risk of being lame compared with sows placed on concrete.

In this experiment, researchers studied the effects of two types of flooring on pregnant gilts in Ireland. One hundred sixty-four pregnant gilts were divided into two groups. One group was housed on concrete slatted floors, and the other group was housed on concrete slatted floors covered in rubber slat mats.

The researchers scored and claw and limb lesion of the replacement gilts and cleanliness periodically. The replacement gilts were observed from the time they were bred until 110 days into their pregnancy.

Dr. Alan Fahey, a lecturer at the University College Dublin said the gilts were studied during two pregnancies. The results were similar during both pregnancies. Sows housed on rubber mats had a reduced risk of swelling and wounds on the limbs. However, the rubber mats increased the risk of sole and heel .

Calderón-Díaz said these lesions were possibly caused by slurry accumulation over the rubber mats. She said these lesions were not severe and could be addressed through modifications of the rubber slat mats.

In the European Union, pregnant sows must be group housed four weeks after breeding until one week before farrowing. This rule has been in effect since January. Calderón-Díaz said other countries are likely to use group housing for pregnant sows in the near future.

Explore further: Shock absorbent flooring to reduce injury through falls

More information: This article is titled "Longitudinal study of the effect of rubber slat mats on locomotory ability, body, limb and claw lesions and dirtiness of group housed sows." It can be read in full at the journalofanimalscience.org.

Related Stories

Tapping into the rubber plant genome

February 7, 2013

A group of international scientists have sequenced the draft genome sequence of the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, the major commercial source of natural rubber. The manuscript describing the draft genome is published in ...

Exercise during gestation might affect future fertility

March 12, 2013

A short walk around the barn might improve the future fertility of Yorkshire gilts. According to research presented by Samantha Kaminski, a graduate student at North Dakota State University, swine fetuses showed significant ...

Recommended for you

Out of the lamplight

July 31, 2015

The human body is governed by complex biochemical circuits. Chemical inputs spur chain reactions that generate new outputs. Understanding how these circuits work—how their components interact to enable life—is critical ...

New insights into the production of antibiotics by bacteria

July 31, 2015

Bacteria use antibiotics as a weapon and even produce more antibiotics if there are competing strains nearby. This is a fundamental insight that can help find new antibiotics. Leiden scientists Daniel Rozen and Gilles van ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.