New Tools to Assist in Converting to Group Housing

by 5m Editor
27 December 2012, at 6:55am

CANADA - New tools being developed by the University of Manitoba will help pork producers planning the switch from stall housing to group housing of gestating sows design the system that will best work in their barns, writes Bruce Cochrane.

The University of Manitoba, working in partnership with Manitoba Pork Council and the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council, is developing new tools to help pork producers planning the change from housing gestating sows in stalls to group housing select the system that provides the best fit with their management systems.

The project was launched in response to the recognition that in the future there will be a need to convert from stalls to group housing of sows.

Dr Laurie Connor, the Head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science, says when you consider the number of feeding systems, flooring systems and whether the groups are dynamic or static there are at least 72 potential combinations.

Dr Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba

What we're doing is trying to develop tools by which producers can make the decision as to what type of alternative they would like to convert to and then, once they've made that decision, a computer program model that will help them in actually providing the layout or the design for the changes that they need to make.

I should say one of the probably critical aspects of "why conversion," is that the majority of the larger barns in Manitoba are of an age that they still have 10 to 15 more years of life but the equipment in them will need to be changed and that will provide the ideal opportunity to convert those existing barns to group housing.

Dr Connor says a comprehensive literature review is expected to be completed by the end of this month and the computer model is expected to be ready in early 2013.

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