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Lessons on Group Sow Housing

17 February 2015

Delegates at the 2015 Banff Pork Symposium heard that the topic of housing sows in groups has shifted from a controversial area of discussion to a clear way of the future, particularly with a new Pig Code of Practice set for implementation.

Christian Blais of Isoporc and Gène-Alliance shared some secrets for success from his experience in Quebec, as part of a break-out session on animal care at Banff Pork Symposium last month, reports Meristem Land and Science.

Christian Blais Banff Pork Symposium Meristen
Christian Blais

Among these, he identified:

  • training of the gilts: the method must be followed by all employees and there must be a minimum 14 days of training or ideally, 21 days
  • need to be patient and calm
  • need daily monitoring of sows that do not eat
  • savings of five per cent in rations plus better body condition of sows makes up in large part for manpower costs for training
  • need good design for training area

There are different management models all with pros and cons, he said.

Mr Blais explained: "Each producer must analyze the capacity to manage one type or the other of the management models for group-housed sows. Each one has its advantages and its disadvantages. We are still at the trial and error stage. We have to learn from those who have gone before us. But consumer pressure will inevitably force us to speed up the transition."

February 2015

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