European Fact-finding Mission Looks at Housing for Gestating Sows

CANADA - A director with Manitoba Pork Council says pork producers need to consider now how they'll make the switch from stall housing to group housing of gestating sows, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 1 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

A fact-finding mission to Europe, organized by CDPQ, was among the topics discussed yesterday as part of Manitoba Swine Seminar 2013.

As of 1 January, European pork producers are required to be housing pregnant sows in groups and stall housing is expected to be phased out in North America by 2025.

Rick Prejet, a director with Manitoba Pork Council, says the delegation visited farms and research facilities in France, Germany and Denmark.

Rick Prejet-Manitoba Pork Council

The Europeans have had a number of years of experimenting with different group systems and what works and what doesn't work whether it be at the research level or the farm level and so rather than reinvent the wheel in a lot of these things it was probably worth the investment in going there and learning from some of the mistakes they've made and at what point they are right now as far as what works.

First off after we were done the trip and we've seen what the producers were doing and spoke to them first hand we're definitely less fearful of making the move to group housing from stalls.

I know sometimes it's addressed as a welfare issue.

I'm not so sure that it necessarily is a welfare issue.

There's a lot of activists etceteras pushing to go down that route.

We see animals being treated very well in stalls and we saw animals being treated very well in different group systems too so both systems can work.

It's really just a matter now of understanding how we can adapt these systems and how do we can make them work and the third part of course is quite important is the cost.

Can we afford to make the conversions and when.

Mr Prejet says we've got to start thinking about these new systems now, how the change will be accomplished and the economic implications.

He says the information gathered through the fact-finding mission will be compiled into a final report expected to be completed within the next one to two months.

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