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!
In the last few years Meishan boars (pronounced May Shan) have grown in popularity with producers across North America, and it isn't just for their dashing good looks. While Meishans aren't much to look at—they honestly look like a mix between a basset hound, a pug, and a pig—their breed characteristics are well-suited to open checks and boar stations with automatic heat detection.
Installing new feed equipment in a group housing barn has been credited with enhancing production, feed efficiency, and the overall health of the animals. While precision feeding technology certainly provides the opportunity to step up your production and barn operations, new equipment alone will never leave you with the high-functioning barn you desire. You should never just buy electronic sow feeding equipment and expect a group housing barn to work. Keep reading to find out why.
Let's imagine you’re at a large workplace that has a cafeteria where all workers eat. You can even have it catered by your favorite restaurant if you want; after all, this is your analogy.
Every day at lunch time, you head over to the cafeteria to grab lunch along with your friends. The cafeteria analogy works well as you’re given free choice on where you sit and who you hang out with.
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.