The future of animal housing
February 02, 2017
It’s always difficult for someone who is analytical and science-minded to view farming practices through the lens of someone who sees it from more of an emotional standpoint. But I will say that everything we do is in the best interest of the animal and the consumer. And we continue to improve our practices as we try to balance the two.
I think that applies to the recent push for a transition from gestation stalls to group housing. There are certainly pros and cons to both.
Gestation stalls: Pros & cons
Group sow housing: Pros & cons
Regardless, farmers are moving to group housing. And I think that’s a challenge we’ve taken on very well. We’re coming up with new and innovative ways to decrease sow-to-sow aggression.
We’re creating cool technologies where we know if a sow finished her meal that day. And some systems will sort those sows that aren’t eating. When
she leaves it’ll send her to a “loafing area,” where several times a day employees check why they’re there and whether they need attention.
The farmer impact
This transition is very expensive – I think that’s what everyone should know. Especially if you have an established farm, and then you’re told you need
to convert to group housing by a certain time, or you won’t be able to sell your pigs. So you absorb 100% of those costs as a farmer, or you go out of business.
As a society, we can’t afford to put farmers out of business – not with more mouths to feed on the same or lesser amount of land.
Dr. Wesley Lyons is currently a veterinarian at Bethany Swine Health Services in Sycamore, IL. He started in mixed animal practice for a few months with his father, Dr. Chuck Lyons, before joining Pig Improvement Company as a Health Assurance Veterinarian.