When I was asked to write an article reflecting on recent advancements in the pork production industry, I was first forced to evaluate where we were ten years ago. That was a reasonably straightforward exercise for me, as my son is currently ten years old—but where were we as an industry? Here are a few things that came to mind. They help explain the advancements in both the pork industry and our daily lives.
We often get asked to talk through the process of taking a stall barn and converting it to a loose housing barn, and for good reason! The process seems daunting, but in reality it is pretty painless if you plan ahead. Every barn conversion is different due to a number of factors including barn size, current and desired barn operations, temporary housing options, and a number of other factors. Providing a general outline of the conversion process is helpful, but we decided we could paint a clearer picture if we walked you through a recent conversion.
I know we spend a lot of time sharing information about the care and housing of sows; so much so that sometimes we may appear to lose sight of the bigger picture. Which in this case is actually the little picture. If great care for the sows is important, and increased production is the result, then it stands to reason that once you have done all of that you also need to focus on what you’re going to with all those little piglets.
It doesn’t matter if you are an ISO-wean barn selling your piglets or are responsible for feeding them to market, the job just gets started once they are born. So let’s look at a few things that can be done to ensure that the little guy has the best chance possible.
We often find overlap between our work life and our personal life. For us, and maybe for you, we see lots of connections between managing pigs on the farm and everyday life. We recently posted an article on how sows are like our in-laws, and it got me thinking about another connection I see every day - how being a good father and a good husband relates directly to successfully managing loose sow housing.
When talking with our customers, we often use this phrase. We use it to emphasize that the attitude and belief in an ESF group housing system can be just as important as the system itself. The people running the barn need to believe in the system and how it should operate first, only then will they be able to make it work. When you come across challenges in a loose housing barn (and you will), if you believe there is a solution, you will find it. If you believe that the system is flawed, then you will blame that on the system, your staff, or some other element of your operation instead of looking any further for a solution.
Making the decision to remodel your existing sow housing barn may seem daunting. You will have to restructure your barn, buy new equipment, and train your pigs and barn staff on the new processes. We promise that making this decision is worth your time and investment, but we understand effort this transition takes. That is why we want to provide you with everything you need to know about a sow housing remodel before you make the decision.
As it enters its 10th year of operation, we would like to highlight the building that set the group sow housing industry standard, the Eagle Creek Colony electronic sow feeding facility. The Eagle Creek barn is a 1,000 sow farrow to finish site located near Altamont, MB. It was designed using large-pen gestation and Nedap equipment and the year-to-year annual weaning in the facility is nearly 32 pigs/sow/year, which is above most conventional systems. It is a fully dynamic building with central separation. New Standard started designing the building in January 2007, and later began construction in April. The first animals were introduced to the barn in April 2008. The finisher barn was later completed in 2010.