The housing patterns of gestating sows affect their health and welfare. In this study, the differences between behavior and stress hormone levels were assessed when sows were housed in a group housing system compared to individual stalls; in addition, the disease resistance and resilience of their piglets were compared. In our investigation, the group-housed sows showed more exploratory behavior, less vacuum chewing, less sitting behavior, and lower stress hormone levels throughout pregnancy. A lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection test revealed that the offspring of group-housed sows showed better resistance and resilience to disease. Therefore, the gestating sows raised in a group housing system and their piglets are healthier and have improved welfare. Our results show that a group housing system provides higher welfare standards, with conditions that are more suitable for gestating sows in modern pig production.
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