Survey: Only 17 Percent of Sows Housed in Open Pen Gestation

by 5m Editor
7 June 2012, at 8:43am

US - A survey conducted by the University of Missouri on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council shows only about 17 per cent of sows in the US are currently housed in open pen gestation, writes Bruce Cochrane.

In response to demands for eliminating gestation stalls the University of Missouri surveyed pork production firms with over one thousand sows to determine the percentage of sows housed in open pen gestation today and the percentage expected to be housed in open pen gestation two years from now.

University of Missouri extension economist Dr Ron Plain says those who responded reported roughly 17 per cent of their sows and bred gilts are currently housed in open pen gestation and they plan to increase that to about 23 per cent two years from now.

Dr Ron Plain-University of Missouri

A number of retailers have been talking about requiring that their pork comes from operations that use open pen gestation and there's a real concern as to whether the industry would actually be able to deliver on this.

It's not good for the retailers or the producers if we end up confusing customers or promising things that we find out we can't deliver on on a timely basis.

If we're actually going to implement this in a meaningful way for consumers some sort of tracking, segregation, verification system must be in place to track the pork delivered to a restaurant or to a grocery store back to the farm and the type of facility those sows were housed in if these retailers are going to be able to make some sort of claim to their customers.

We find that a number of firms are implementing some open pen gestation but there's really not a tracking verification system in place to make sure that consumers are getting what some retailers are saying they're going to deliver.

Dr Plain says anytime you push a change, in this case in housing, that costs more per square foot and is more labor intensive, you add costs which will mean higher consumer prices for pork.

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