Switching from Stall to Group Sow Housing

by 5m Editor
15 February 2012, at 8:47am

CANADA - The head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science says pork producers must consider several factors as they plan the switch from conventional stall housing of sows to group housing, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Several North American pork processing and retail food outlets have indicated intentions to phase out the purchase of pork originating from operations that do not house sows in groups.

"This Little Piggy Stayed Home: Factors affecting success of sow group housing" will be the focus tomorrow of the fifth seminar in the University of Manitoba Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Seminar Series for 2011-2012.

Dr Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science says there is no one best group housing system so producers planning the switch have several factors to consider.

Dr Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba

Just to give you an example you need to consider what the actual group size is going to be, how many sows in a group, what type of feeding system you're going to use, the type of flooring that is going to work both from the standpoint of animal comfort as well as manure removal.

Then the other factors are also the herdspeople, the ones that are actually looking after these animals.

We know certainly that the interaction between the human and the animal has a profound effect on their actual performance and their well being.

Also a lot of the people currently in the industry, working within or managing within a stall system is what they know and so part of any transition program also has to include an education component for the stockpeople and the managers.

Those are just some examples of a number of the factors that have to be considered whether it's building new or whether it's transitioning.

Dr Connor suggests one of the key challenges is not determining what will work best, but how it will be paid for.

She notes producers in other countries have had government support to help them build new or transition into group housing but in North America that has not been the case.

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