Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Center in Saskatchewan, Canada shows that sows vary in their desire to spend time in stalls during gestation.
Eight groups of 25 sows each were housed in walk-in/lock-in stall gestation pens and studied. Roughly 95% of the sows left their stalls at some point during gestation, but how often they did so varied. "We found that the sows did spend a fair amount of time within the stalls, that they would eat and then many of them would lie down within the stalls," said Dr. Harold Gonyou with the Center. "When we were looking at them over a 24-hour period we found that we'd have 40% of the sows or so that spent less than 2% of the time outside the stalls throughout the day, but we also had some that would spend 80% or 90% out."
The sows that spent the most time outside, according to the research, seemed to be the larger and older sows, raising dominance and size/comfort questions. More research needs to be conducted, said scientists, to get the answers needed.