Yorkshire-based international pig genetics company, ACMC, is expecting sales of its AC1 gilt and grandparent stock to increase substantially next year after the new welfare codes come into force in mainland Europe.
Following an EU directive, a partial ban on sow stalls will take place in 2013, with the result that continental producers will have to switch to group-housing systems.
“The UK banned sow stalls over a decade ago and many British producers had difficulty adapting to the new system because of fighting, bullying and general aggression among their sows,” commented Matthew Curtis, managing director of ACMC.
However, it’s been found that the quiet temperament of the AC1 gilt — which contains genes from the docile and prolific Chinese Meishan breed — means it is well adapted to this system.
“We have found them easier to mix in group systems than traditional breeds, so they suffer less stress which results in reduced foetal deaths and abortions,” he said.
This ability to perform under group-housing systems has already been borne out on mainland Europe where a 1,000-sow herd belonging to the Taroncher brothers — who farm near Valencia in Spain — are weaning 32.5 pigs per sow per year. The farm is fully compliant with the new regulations.
“It has been suggested that there is increasing interest in selecting pigs for behavioural traits. Less aggressive finishing pigs convert their feed better because their energy is diverted to growth rather than fighting,” said Matthew.