Thailand’s largest swine producer Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) has confirmed that it will convert all new farms to group housing for gestating sows in the years to come.
Charoen Pokphand Foods’ vice president of the pig business, Mr Soontorn Imboonta, confirmed that news to Pig Progress.
At the moment, 24% of CPF’s sow farms in Thailand have already switched to group gestation pens, Mr Soontorn said. The transition will also apply to all new-to-build pig houses. Gradually, during maintenance, also the existing buildings will be converted as well, Mr Soontorn told. For farms in Thailand, the total transition is intended to be completed by 2025.
It is intended to keep the sows in groups of 8, using free access stalls, he said. This conversion is estimated to require a 10% additional surface. Either this will mean that buildings have to be expanded or about 10% fewer sows can be held in the similar buildings.
The main reason for the conversion to group housing is welfare, said Mr Soontorn, although in Thailand currently there is not a strong movement yet demanding more animal welfare for pigs and sows. It pays off to be ahead of the game, he indicated.
Mr Soontorn said that one of the reasons to convert is because in many trials sows have been observed to be better prepared for farrowing.
CPF’s conversion to group housing can also be found in the company’s Sustainability Report 2017. Among its ‘animal welfare targets’, CPF mentions that “100% of the pregnant breeding sow farms are progressing towards the group gestation pen by 2025 for Thailand operations and by 2028 for international operations.”
The report continued to state that: “100% of the newly established farms for pregnant breeding sows will use the group gestation pen from 2017 for Thailand operations and from 2018 for international operations.”
Late last year, Betagro, Thailand’s number 2 in terms of swine production, also announced to convert to group housing for sows. In addition, Qinglian Food in China made the step towards conversion to group housing. In the European Union, group housing for gestating sows has been mandatory since 2013.