500 to 600 Hog Groups Optimum for Autosort Swine Handling Systems

CANADA - Research conducted at the Prairie Swine Centre suggests the optimum group size for the efficient operation of autosort swine handling systems is in the range of 500 to 600 pigs.
calendar icon 9 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Autosort swine handling systems allow pigs to be electronically sorted according weight.

After crossing a scale the pigs, depending on how close they are to market weight, are directed into designated areas for shipment, final finishing or to receive special diets.

Research scientist in animal behavior Dr. Harold Gonyou says, one of the challenges at the beginning is make sure those pigs have good access to feed and then you need to train them in a way that will allow them to keep eating so most people will use a training program where they gradually restrict access to feed so the pigs finally have to go through the sorter in order to get to the feed.

Dr. Harold Gonyou-Prairie Swine Centre

The optimal group size really relates to how well these pigs can get through the sorter and we know that there'll be peaks during the day when a lot of pigs are moving through so you need to look at those peaks and see where you start influencing the number of pigs that can go through.

On a practical basis people that have 300 or 400 pigs on an autosort system usually have very few problems.

People that have 500 pigs usually are doing just fine but you do hear of some problems.

When you get up to 600 pigs you hear of more problems and, as you go higher than that, you'll get more and more problems so it would seem that the industry right now, 500 is a very common number and 600 is probably something that many people are attempting and they can just expect a few more problems with that.

Dr. Gonyou estimates the reward, in terms of reduced sorting time and nutritional control, at five to ten dollars as the maximum benefit you'll get per pig so you'll want to stay at a reasonable level.

He estimates 400 to 500 pigs would be the minimum for it to be economically viable but, at that level, people are talking about getting a pay back within a couple of years.

-Dr. Gonyou addressed the 2007 Focus on the Future Conference last week in Saskatoon.

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