CANADA - An animal care specialist with Manitoba Pork says a range of factors needs to be considered as pork producers explore the prospects of converting from stall housing to group housing of gestating sows, writes Bruce Cochrane.
As part of a National Sow Housing Conversion Project being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, four to five sow barns will be selected across Canada for a pilot project in which they will be converted from conventional stall housing to group housing.
Mark Fynn, an animal care specialist with Manitoba Pork, explains the goal is to gather information for producers considering the change to loose housing as the Canadian pork industry responds to changes to Canada's Pig Code of Practice.
Mark Fynn - Manitoba Pork:
We're selecting a variety of different barns so that we have a variety of different sizes and management schemes, looking for one in Alberta-Saskatchewan, one in Manitoba, one in Ontario and one in Quebec.
We'd like those to be of different sizes and different choices of loose housing systems, so that we can provide the most comprehensive information and number of options to those producers that are interested.
Loose housing is not quite as simple as some people make it out to be.
There's a lot of things that have to go into the design.
First and foremost you have to see whether the existing barns are capable of undergoing a conversion, if it's actually worth investing in the existing barns versus building new.
The other things to consider are what management feels comfortable with as far as loose housing systems go.
Some of the systems are a lot more technologically advanced, some are simpler but require maybe a higher stockmanship skill so we really want to look at a variety of those things and give options to the producers on what they can select and be successful in their transition to loose housing.
Mr Fynn says the hope is to break ground on some of the conversions by next summer and have some preliminary results by the summer of 2016.
ThePigSite News Desk