New Technology Addresses Challenges of Group Sow Housing

CANADA - A director with Manitoba Pork Council suggests the introduction of new technology is making it easier for pork producers to maintain or improve productivity under group sow housing systems, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 21 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

European pork producers, as of 1 January, are required to house pregnant sows in groups.

As part of a fact finding mission organized by CDPQ, a delegation of Canadian pork producers, researchers and engineers visited farms and research facilities in France, Germany and the Netherlands to look at group housing systems being used there.

Rick Prejet, a director with Manitoba Pork Council, says many producers that will be moving to group housing in Canada will be converting their barns rather than building from brand new.

Rick Prejet-Manitoba Pork Council

I think we've got to start thinking about the different systems and doing our own research that would be more Canadian based with our conditions and our ventilation systems.

We went to stalls a long long time ago away from group housing because of the problems with group housing.

Back at that time we didn't have the technologies we have today to make group housing work and especially with electronic sow feeding systems.

You can now feed sows individually etceteras so we have the technology now that it's easier to maintain or get very good production with these kinds of a system.

There's some talk about 2025 of trying to get everybody converted over but, I'll take Europe for an example.

Twelve years ago is when this kind of came in, 1 January has come and passed here this year and some countries are barely 50 per cent converted where as some are 100 percent converted.

It seems like a long time, 10 or 12 years, but that comes by fast and, if there's not a lot of money being made in the mean time, makes it even more difficult to make the switchover.

So we need to start thinking about these systems right now, not be doing this next year or two years or even five years from now but we need to plan for the future and financially plan for the future of doing these conversions, how we're going to do them?

Mr Prejet says, it's a matter of understanding how we can adapt these systems to make them work in Canada and the costs, can we afford to make the conversions and when?

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