Proposed Mandatory Conversion to Group Housing of Sows Creates Concerns

CANADA - The Saskatchewan Pork Development Board says the mandatory conversion to group housing of gestating sows from stalls recommended in a proposed revised Pig Code of Practice has generated the most concern among the province's pork producers, Bruce Cochrane writes.
calendar icon 5 July 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

On 1 June the National Farm Animal Care Council released a draft updated Pig Code of Practice triggering a 60 day public comment period which ends 3 August.

Under the proposed updated code all new sow barns will be required to go to group housing and all existing barns will need to be converted by 2014.

Sask Pork producer services Manager Harvey Wagner says producers find this recommendation to be excessive.

Harvey Wagner-Saskatchewan Pork Development Board

The science says that group sow housing is equal to or better than sow stalls in many areas and that's certainly true.

Productivity can be the same as or better or worse than stalls.

There's no one perfect system.

All systems have their challenges, all systems have their benefits.

The challenge is to renovate a barn.

Certainly the outcome in group housing systems can be worse more easily than in stalls.

Stall systems are somewhat more predictable than group sow housing.

Group sow housing systems require a higher degree of animal husbandry than a stall system so the training and monitoring of people working with the animals has to be fairly rigorous and at a fairly high level.

Mr Wagner suggests converting barns that were designed for stalls to group housing over the next 10 years will be a monumental challenge.

He points out many producers are concerned that the welfare of the animals would actually be worse in a barn that's been renovated than it is in a sow stall system.

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