Effect of farrowing pen size on pre-weaning performance of piglets

Katherine D. Vande Pol, Austin L. Laudwig, Aaron M. Gaines, Beau A. Peterson, Caleb M. Shull, Michael Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Litter sizes in commercial pig production have increased substantially over recent years; however, farrowing pen sizes have generally not changed over the same time period. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of farrowing pen size on piglet pre-weaning growth and mortality. Differences in pen size were created by varying the width of pens of the same length, increasing the creep area available to the piglets. The study used a total of 1,786 litters in a randomized complete block design to compare two farrowing pen size treatments (FPS): Standard (pen width 1.52 m) and Increased (pen width 1.68 m). Litter sizes were equalized across treatments (12.9-1.95 piglets) at 24 h after birth using cross-fostering. Litter weights were collected at birth and weaning (21.3-2.08 d); pre-weaning mortality was recorded. The experimental unit was the litter; models for statistical analysis included FPS and replicate. Farrowing pen size had no effect (P 0.05) on litter size at birth (12.8 and 13.0 for the Standard and Increased FPS, respectively), after cross-fostering (12.9 for both treatments), or at weaning (11.2 and 11.3, respectively). There was no effect (P 0.05) of FPS on total litter or average piglet weight at birth, after cross-fostering, and at weaning. These results suggest no benefit in piglet performance from increasing the width of farrowing pens. As litter sizes continue to increase in commercial production, further research is warranted to re-evaluate the impact of farrowing pen size on pre-weaning mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbertxab123
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • farrowing pen size
  • piglet
  • pre-weaning mortality
  • weaning weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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