Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of dry sow housing conditions on muscle weight and bone strength

  • J. N. Marchant (a1) and D. M. Broom (a1)


Confinement has been shown to affect bone strenth in poultry but this weakness has not been documented in other species housed in confinement. The objectives of this experiment were to compare muscle weight and bone strength in non-pregnant sows, of similar age and parity, housed throughout eight or nine pregnancies in two different dry sow systems: (1) individually in stalls and (2) communally in a large group. Following slaughter, the left thoracic and pelvic limbs were dissected and 14 locomotor muscles removed and c. ???lied. A proportional muscle weight was then calculated by dividing individual muscle weight (g) by total body weight (kg). Where there were significant differences, stall-housed sows had lower absolute and proportional muscle weights than group-housed sows. The left humerus and femur were also removed. The bones were broken by a three-point bend test using an Instron Universal Tester. Both bones from stall-housed sows had breaking strengths that were about two-thirds those of group-housed sows. The results indicate that confinement of sows, with a consequent lack of exercise, results in reduction of muscle weight and considerable reduction of bone strength.



Hide All
Anderson, J. J. B., Millin, L. and Crackel, W. C. 1971. Effect of exercise on mineral and organic bone turnover in swine. Journal of Applied Physiology 30: 810813.
Arthur, S. R., Kornegay, E. T., Thomas, H. R., Veit, H. P., Notter, D. R., Webb, K. E. and Baker, J. L. 1983. Restricted energy intake and elevated calcium and phosphorus intake for gilts during growth. IV. Characterisation of metacarpal, metatarsal, femur, humerus and turbinate bones of sows during three parities. Journal of Animal Science 57: 12001214.
Bäckstrom, L. 1973. Environment and animal health in piglet production. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica suppl. 41, pp. 1240.
Baxter, M. R. and Schwaller, C. 1983. Space requirements for sows in confinement. In Farm animal housing and welfare. Current topics in veterinary medicine and animal science. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.
Bayley, H. S., Arthur, D., Bowman, G. H., Pos, J. and Thompson, R. G. 1975. Influence of dietary phosphorus level on growth and bone development in boars and gilts. Journal of Animal Science 40: 864870.
Broom, D. M. 1989. The assessment of sow welfare. Pig Veterinary Journal 22: 100111.
Broom, D. M., Mendl, M. T. and Zanella, A. J. 1995. A comparison of the welfare of sows in different housing conditions. Animal Science 61: 369386.
Combs, N. R., Kornegay, E. T., Lindemann, M. D., Notter, D. R., Wilson, J. H. and Mason, J. P. 1991. Calcium and phosphorus requirement of swine from weaning to market weight. II Development of response curves for bone criteria and comparison of bending and shear bone testing. Journal of Animal Science 69: 682693.
Cronin, G. M. 1985. The development and significance of abnormal stereotyped behaviours in tethered sows. Ph. D. thesis, University of Wageningen.
Currey, J. D. 1968. The effect of protection on the impact strength of rabbits' bones. Acta Anatomica 71: 8793.
Fraser, A. F. and Broom, D. M. 1990. Farm animal behaviour and welfare. Balliere Tindall, London.
Grandhi, R. R., Thornton-Trump, A. B. and Doige, C. E. 1986. Influence of dietary calcium-phosphorus levels on certain mechanical, physical and histological properties and chemical composition of bones in gilts and second litter sows. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 66: 495503.
Hall, D. D., Cromwell, G. L. and Stahly, T. S. 1991. Effects of dietary calcium, phosphorus, calcium:phosphorus ratio and vitamin K on performance, bone strength and blood clotting status of pigs. Journal of Animal Science 69: 646655.
Jongbloed, A. W. 1987. Phosphorus in the feeding of pigs. Ph. D. thesis, WVO, Lelystad.
Knowles, T. G. 1990. The welfare of hens in transit and related effects of housing system. Ph. D. thesis, University of Cambridge.
Knowles, T. G. and Broom, D. M. 1990. Limb bone strength and movement in laying hens from different housing systems. Veterinary Record 126: 354356.
Kornegay, E. T., Thomas, H. R. and Meacham, T. N. 1973. Evaluation of dietary calcium and phosphorus for reproducing sows housed in total confinement or in dirt lots. Journal of Animal Science 37: 493500.
Krohn, C. C. and Munksgaard, L. 1993. Behaviour of dairy cows kept in extensive (loose housing/pasture) or intensive (tie stall) environments. II. Lying and lying-down behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 37: 116.
Lanyon, L. E. 1984. Functional strain as a determinant for bone remodelling. Calcified Tissue International 36: S56–S61.
Lanyon, L. E. 1987. Functional strain in bone tissue as an objective, and controlling stimulus for adaptive bone remodelling. Journal of Biomechanics 20:10831093.
Low, A. G. 1993. Role of dietary fibre in pig diets. In Recent developments in pig nutrition 2 (ed. Cole, D. J. A., Haresign, W. and Garnsworthy, P. C.). Nottingham University Press, Nottingham.
Marchant, J. N. and Rudd, A. R. 1993. Differences in heart rate response at feeding between stall-housed and group-housed sows. Animal Production 56: 423 (abstr.).
Marchant, J. N. and Broom, D. M. 1993. The effects of dry sow housing conditions on lying behaviour of sows. Proceedings of the international congress on applied ethology, (ed. Nichelmann, M., Wierenga, H. K. and Braun, S.), pp. 455458. KTBL, Darmstadt.
McLean, K. A., Baxter, M. R. and Michie, W. 1986. A comparison of the welfare of laying hens in battery cages and a perchery. Research Developments in Agriculture 3: 9398.
Mendl, M. T., Broom, D. M. and Zanella, A. J. 1993. The effects of three types of dry sow housing on sow welfare. In Livestock environment IV (ed. Collins, E. and Boon, C.), pp. 461467. American Society of Agricultural Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan.
Merkley, J. W. and Wabeck, C. J. 1975. Cage density and frozen storage effect on bone strength of broilers. Poultry Science 54:16241627.
Meyer, W. A. and Sunde, M. L. 1974. Bone breakage as affected by type of housing or an exercise machine for layers. Poultry Science 53: 878885.
Nimmo, R. D. 1980. Effect of varying levels of dietary calcium and phosphorus fed to gilts during growth, gestation and subsequent lactation. Ph. D. thesis, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Perrin, W. R. and Bowland, J. P. 1977. Effects of enforced exercise on the incidence of leg weakness in growing boars. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 57: 245251.
Reinhart, G. A. and Mahan, D. C. 1986. Effect of various calcium: phosphorus ratios at low and high dietary phosphorus for starter, grower and finishing swine. Journal of Animal Science 63: 457466.
Reinhold, J. G., Farndji, B., Abadi, P. and Ismail-Beigi, F. 1976. Decreased absorption of calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus by humans due to increased fiber and protein consumption as wheat bread. Journal of Nutrition 106: 493499.
Rousseaux, C. G., Gill, I. and Payne-Crosten, A. 1981. Femoral fractures in pigs associated with calcium deficiency. Australian Veterinary Journal 57: 508510.
Rowland, L. O., Fry, J. L., Christmas, R. B., O'Steen, A. W. and Harmes, R. H. 1972. Differences in tibia strength and bone ash amongst strains of layers. Poultry Science 51: 16121615.
Schnabel, E., Bolduan, G. and Giildenpenning, A. 1983. [Effect of a bran diet on the total transit rate and measurements of the gastrointestinal tract in weaning piglets.] Archivfur Tiererna'hrung 33: 371377.
Tillon, J. P. and Madec, F. 1984. Diseases affecting confined sows. Data from epidemiological observations. Annales de Recherche Veterinaire 15:195199.
Tokuriki, M. 1973a. Electromyographic and joint-mechanical studies in quadrupedal locomotion. I. Walk. Japanese Journal of Veterinary Science 35: 433446.
Tokuriki, M. 1973b. Electromyographic and joint-mechanical studies in quadrupedal locomotion. II. Trot. Japanese Journal of Veterinary Science 35: 525533.
Tokuriki, M. 1974. Electromyographic and joint-mechanical studies in quadrupedal locomotion. III. Gallop. Japanese journal of Veterinary Science 36:121132.
Whittemore, C. T. 1994. Causes and consequences of change in the mature size of the domestic pig. Outlook on Agriculture 23: 5559.
Wright, T. M. and Hayes, W. C. 1976. Tensile testing of bone over a wide range of strain rates. Effects of strain rate, microstructure and density. Medical and Biological Engineering 14: 671679.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Effects of dry sow housing conditions on muscle weight and bone strength

  • J. N. Marchant (a1) and D. M. Broom (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.