Exploring Alternative Sow Housing Options

by 5m Editor
1 April 2011, at 8:57am

CANADA - Researchers with the University of Manitoba have kicked off a study intended to provide pork producers options for switching from conventional to group systems for housing gestating sows, writes Bruce Cochrane.

In response to public pressure for the elimination of gestation stalls Manitoba's pork producers have identified alternative housing for sows as one of their top research priorities.

The University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in partnership with Manitoba Pork Council has launched a project aimed at devising strategies that will allow pork producers to convert conventional sow barns to a form of loose or group housing.

Dr Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science, says the goal is to identify options.

Dr Laurie ConnorUniversity of Manitoba

We title it actually "Successful Sow Barn Conversion."

That is really the focus of it, is to have information that will actually help producers to make the decisions so that they can successfully convert their barns to housing systems that will help them maintain animal welfare, animal health, similarly maintain or improve actual productivity within that system as well as minimize environmental impact, maintain that healthy environment and likewise ensure that they are economically viable and therefor economically sustainable.

Dr Connor says the final document will explore the pros and cons of several of the most common alternatives for housing sows to help producers decide the most economically viable option for their particular operation and management and to plan their conversions.

The project began in January and is expected to be complete in about 18 months.

Dr Connor expects the first useful results within six to 12 months.

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