CANADA - A Nutritionist with Gestal says, when planning group sizes in group sow housing systems, producers should consider anticipated breeding schedules, Bruce Cochrane reports.
Canada's updated Pig Code of Practice commits the pork industry to move to group sow housing by 2024.
Dr Hyatt Frobose, a Nutritionist with Gestal, notes contrary to individual stalls, which have very few differences in the way they can be configured, group housing can take many different forms and a lot of that comes back to the scale of the operation.
Dr Hyatt Frobose-Gestal
In general group housing involves several key features that need to be taken into account when producers are either converting an existing facility to group housing or building a new facility.
One of the big things that we're going to immediately consider is what size of a group of animals do we want to maintain in group housing, what's ideal, what matches the farm's production system?
For example we have producers using our equipment as well as other group housing systems that range in group pen sizes from as small as six to eight animals to as many as 200 to 300 animals in a single pen.
While there are advantage and disadvantages to some of these different grouping structures, a lot of that comes back to how is their feeding system being implemented, how are they being managed by the employees on the farm and the scale of the farm.
For example a 5,000 sow farm might be more easily able to implement large groups of sows where as a producer who might only have a few hundred sows needs to manage them in smaller groups because this may match the breeding and farrowing windows a bit more efficiently than trying to group a lot of animals in one space.
Dr Frobose encourages producers planning a transition to group housing to think about how the pigs will flow through the system and a lot of that comes back to whether they're breeding sows on weekly or monthly intervals.
He notes, the number of sows typically bred in a narrow window generally matches up fairly with the group size they'll want to target.
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