Prairie Swine Centre Expands Group Housing Research

CANADA - Renovations are underway at the Prairie Swine Centre's Floral research facility in Saskatchewan. It will allow scientists to expand research into group housing of sows and weaning age of piglets, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 27 November 2007
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Renovations of the Prairie Swine Centre's gestation and lactation facility and gilt development area located near Floral, Saskatchewan are scheduled to be completed by next April.

CEO Dr. John Patience says, in addition to improving the efficiency of the 30 year old facility, the renovations will allow the centre to expand its research into group housing of sows.

Dr. John Patience-Prairie Swine Centre

That's one of the subjects that faces our industry as we move into the future and the challenges to gestation housing so we will be putting in a new kind of group housing system.

At the Elstow facility we were able to look at electronic sow feeders as one alternative to group housing of sows and in the new unit we'll be putting in what's called "walk in lock in stalls" which allow the animals to go into a stall in order to be fed but then they have the ability to leave the stall and wander in the loafing area when they're not being fed.

This is a design that we have borrowed from the Europeans and specifically from Denmark.

It is, we understand, the most popular group housing system in Denmark right now in new facilities and so we thought it would be a good opportunity for us to evaluate it from a North American context.

Dr. Patience notes scientists will also be moving to four week weaning in the farrowing area and comparing weaning at three weeks of age to four weeks.

He notes the industry is moving to older weaning for a variety of reasons, including the ability to feed lower cost diets to piglets weaned at four weeks versus three weeks of age, a reduced need for medication in the feed and improved productivity of the later weaned piglets in the grow finish barn.

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