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Canadian Farms Convert Pig Barns to Comply with Housing Laws

24 April 2015, at 11:25am

CANADA - To comply with new requirements under Canada's revised Pig Code of Practice and maintain economic viability, most pork producers are considering converting existing sow barns from stall housing to group housing rather than building new, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Under changes to Canada's Pig Code of Practice, any new or expanded sow operations must employ group housing.

In response, swine research facilities across Canada, in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc, are ramping up a program under which researchers are working with individual producers through their conversions.

That work has been discussed in Niverville and in Portage as part of the Prairie Swine Centre's 2015 spring producer meetings.

Centre president and CEO Lee Wittington says, if they had the choice, the majority of producers would build new but for most that isn't an affordable option.

Lee Wittington-Prairie Swine Centre:

We know that we can be successful.

If we start with a brand new barn, we know enough of the science and management of sows in groups that we can build a successful barn and they're being built across North America and in Europe.

The challenge is that, given the last seven years of lack of sustained profitability, most producers have said, it looks like my option is to convert something I've already got, either a gestation barn, a stall barn or maybe a grow finish barn and can I convert that into group sow housing.

We started a program about five years ago, that our vision is to have a national program where there would be a couple of converted barns in every province that producers can rely on as a touch stone for how did it work and how did you come up with the concept, and make your new barn flow properly and accommodate the number of sows you wanted.

For more on the National Sow Housing Conversion Project visit the Prairie Swine Centre web site at or Swine Innovation Porc at

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