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Hoop Barns Less Efficient but Produce Equal Quality Pork

by 5m Editor
7 February 2006, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2053. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 2053

Research conducted by the University of Minnesota has determined pigs raised in hoop barns are less efficient than those raised under conventional confinement systems but produce meat of equal quality.

In two studies scientists at the West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris compared growth performance, economics and meat quality of pigs raised in deep bedded hoop barns to that of pigs raised under conventional confinement systems.

Animal Science Professor Dr. Lee Johnston reports pigs raised in hoop barns were less efficient and the quality of their meat was identical to those raised under confinement.

"In one experiment we fed the pigs in a confinement barn corn soy meal, our standard diets. We also fed that same standard set of diets to pigs in hoop barns and then we had another diet that we called the alternative grains diet that was based off of barley, oats, buckwheat, field peas and so forth with the idea that that diet would be a lower energy density, that we could maybe slow the pigs down in terms of fattening and have a more desirable carcass at the end of the experiment.

In that experiment basically we found that pigs fed corn soy in a hoop barn tended to be fatter, ate about seven percent more feed than the confinement barn and were seven percent less efficient.

No differences in the meat quality of those pigs. The alternative grains diet slowed the pigs down, made them a little bit leaner but they grew a little bit too slow and the cost of that diet was just too expensive.

The second experiment basically was comparing hoops versus confinement barn with a corn soy diet and looked at the behavior of the pigs to determine if that had any influence on their meat quality because we've been hearing from the field that pigs in hoop barns had better meat quality.

The end result of that was that basically meat quality was not different between the two. We found that pigs in hoop barns were more active, were less fearful of new situations, probably would be easier to load out but that didn't result in better meat quality.

Dr. Johnston suggests hoop barns can be competitive, if we can learn how to feed the pigs so we get a little leaner carcass.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor