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Flemish sow farmers may not make 2013 deadline

Only one third of Flemish sow farms may have transferred to a group housing system for gestating sows within two years from now, a recent survey by the Flemish Institution of Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) revealed.

According to the website of the Flemish Information Centre for Agri- and Horticulture (VILT), ILVO concluded that no improvement can be seen although the European deadline of 2013 is coming closer. In that year gestation crates may no longer be used in pig production and sows need to be kept in groups.


Changing pig farmers
Ever since the year 2003, the Flemish authorities have been monitoring every two years how effective Flemish pig farmers are in the change towards group housing.


At the first attempt, only 10.5% of all producers were ready; in 2007 a positive trend was noted as 29.8% proved to keep their sows in groups – and another 6.6% planning on doing so within the next two years.


The expectations for this year were that over 36% of pig farmers would be ready but the number of producers prepared for the future appears to have shrunk to 24.6%, with another 6.9% planning to do so within the next two years.


Worrisome
"It's worrisome that two years prior to the ultimate deadline, 70% of pig farms still has to begin transforming," ILVO-researcher Frank Tuyttens was quoted in the trade journal Varkensbedrijf.


From the data at their disposal, the researchers conclude that pig farms with older group housing management systems seem to have massively shut up shop.


"The new data, however, also suggest that very few farms exist that really completely transform," Tuyttens added. Most probably explanation for this phenomenon is the bad economical situation at the moment. New projects that had to be carried out despite the crisis appear not to be sufficient to compensate the number of farms quitting the business altogether.


Related website:
• Flemish Institution of Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)
• Flemish Information Centre for Agri- and Horticulture (VILT)
• Varkensbedrijf (in Dutch)

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