Productivity Need Not Suffer with Group Sow Housing

12 November 2012, at 8:36am

GERMANY - The move to group-sow housing — following Europe’s partial ban on sow stalls in January — doesn’t have to mean a drop in herd productivity. This is the message being given to pig farmers attending the EuroTier livestock exhibition in Hannover, Germany, by international pig-breeding company ACMC.

Docile sows on units already converted to group housing in mainland Europe, such as this one in Spain, have been achieving high numbers of pigs reared.

"Much depends upon the temperament of the sows. Sows with aggressive natures can cause problems, causing a reduction in numbers born and reared. But sows with a docile temperament tend to perform better in group situations," said ACMC's managing director Matthew Curtis.

"The importance of temperament is now being recognised by researchers across the world where the role of temperament is being investigated at several centres," he added. In Canada, for instance, researchers are looking into selecting lines that are less aggressive and suited to group-housing systems.

"Our own experience has shown that docile sows can perform as well, if not better, than confined sows, even on a large scale." A 1000-sow herd using ACMC's AC1 gilts belonging to the Taroncher brothers - who farm near Valencia in Spain - is weaning 32.5 pigs per sow per year on a farm which is already compliant with the new regulations.

The AC1 - developed over 20 years - contains genes from lines using the Chinese Meishan, which is naturally docile and highly productive. "We've found that this is a huge advantage in group-housing systems," said Mr Curtis.

ACMC is exhibiting on Stand No 12D in Hall 21