The World Pork Expo in 2018 is always a great time to hear from leading voices in the swine industry. This year New Standard is hosting a Q&A style panel discussion with various voices from within group sow housing, so you can get all of your questions answered!
This will probably seem like a no-brainer, but one of the biggest factors determining success on a hog farm is making sure the sows that are supposed to be pregnant are actually pregnant. In traditional gestation stalls workers are tasked with performing ultrasound on each bred sow, a job that can be dangerous both for workers and pigs. Time consumption is a big factor with this method.
Even after switching to group housing, some farms still struggle to find a good system for identifying sows in heat. Watching for visual signs of estrus is a skill that takes time to develop and require close staff monitoring. Thankfully with New Standard and Nedap Livestock Management, the task of identifying and dealing with open sows gets a whole lot easier.
There are plenty of schools of thought on barn design; some design for the health and happiness of the sow, some design for the most functionality in a small space, some design for the convenience of the owner or producer. But only a sow could design her space exactly how she wants it. Here are four things we believe a sow would include in the blueprints of the barn if she was the one in charge!
The major question that arises in the group housing planning process relates to pen design and sow grouping strategy. Should I design around static or dynamic sow pens? And should I house the sows in large or small groups?
The research is in and it shows you should go with...well either really. In practice and in research facilities, both static and dynamic pens will produce at a high level with skilled management. According to a review of research by the Prairie Swine Centre, there are no significant differences in birth rate, still births, lameness, or any other major production measurements among sows in static groups and dynamic groups.
While either pen strategy could work for you, it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of both.
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.
Francis Forst from Synergy LLC in Missouri knew he wanted to go with group sow housing and an electronic sow feeding system (ESF system), and he did his research on businesses that could partner with him to help him do it. That research led him to New Standard. For Forst, the biggest difference between New Standard and the competition has been our follow up training, education, and service. But don't take our word for it, hear it from Forst himself in his interview with our own Kevin Kurbis.