Hungry and angry - making hungry sows fed and happy

Senast ändrad: 26 oktober 2023

How is sow behaviour, health and production affected by adding hay as roughage when sows are fed with electronic sow feeders? - Master projects in the area of animal science are available in an existing project financed by Partnerskap Alnarp

In Sweden, the interest in use of electronic sow feeding (ESF) systems for group-housed gestating sows is growing. The use of ESF systems is associated with several benefits as the system allows for e.g. individual feeding of animals and saves space in the barn when sows are housed in large groups. Housing gestating sows in an ESF system is, however, also associated with several challenges. Gestating sows are fed restrictive amounts of concentrates to reduce reproductive problems, which means that the sows may likely still be motivated for eating/feed seeking. A lasting motivation for eating/feed seeking combined with group housing on relatively confined space, will result in increased levels of aggression, following increased competition. We expect that provision with roughage will increase the feeling of satiety and thereby lower the level of aggression in the pen and improve the clinical condition of the sows.

This experiment will be conducted at a commercial sow herd where half the sows in the gestation unit will be provided with access to wrapped hay in straw racks. The effects of access to roughage on sow behaviour and sow clinical condition will be compared between the two treatments (access to roughage or no access).

Examples of master projects:

  • How does provision with roughage affect competition for access to the ESF in the first days after mixing?
  • Does provision with roughage affect lower ranking sows’ access to the lying area after rank has been established? 
  • How do sows use the straw racks – what sows visit the racks and when during the day?
  • Is resource guarding in the pen influenced by provision with roughage?


Requirements: Students with a background in Animal or Veterinary Science are welcome.

Time: Data collection runs continuously from October 2019 to October 2020.

Location: The project is carried out at a commercial herd in southern Skåne. As a student, you will have the possibility to get access to video recordings; meaning you can do your data collection at the location of your choosing. You are also welcome to participate in farm visits and recordings of clinical data. This will require you to be located at campus Alnarp during the data collection periods.