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Technology Eases Shift From Conventional to Group Housing

by 5m Editor
1 December 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1657. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1657

A Peace River Region swine producer says state of the art technology has allowed his operation to shift from conventional to large group housing without sacrificing productivity.

Rocky Morrill operates Peace River Pork, an eight thousand head farrow to finish swine production unit, near Dawson Creek, BC.

He says his biggest consideration when shifting to large group housing was labor.

"We used to have our conventional shoebox system where you run 22 pigs in each pen, then this innovation came forth with going to large groups of 500 or more and using an autosort scale to actually weight the pigs and go through that.

The big drive for that was basically the labor involved in managing and weighing the pigs so this is why we tried to adopt this innovation.

When you have to go into a barn of eight thousand pigs and you have staff of three or what ever and they have to weigh and process all those animals to get them ready for the packing plant, it's quite an arduous job to actually weigh all of those pigs or at least weigh some of them.

The key target here is that you reduce a lot of that labor now that the pigs basically are walking through a scale on their own which automatically will sort the heavies from the light using a micro-computer and then also you're hitting more in that target weight range which should give you back some economical benefit.

The big one was just the labor aspect. It's a very tough job. You have to be very sensitive to the people working in these units and how much work they had to go through to do this job so that alone was probably one of the biggest influences in going with this."

Morrill says, while large group housing requires different management and involves a learning curve, growth rates, feed conversion and mortality rates can be equally good under this system.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor