Canadian pig producers will benefit from research on switching from gestation stalls to loose sow housing as a result of a pilot project underway on a Maple Leaf Foods barn.
The project, which is underway in barn is near Steinbach, is worth CAD$1.2 million (€850,000). It has already received $790,000 from the federal and provincial governments and is the largest complete barn conversion in Manitoba.
Funding was used to:
remove gestation stalls and replace them with a design that allows sows to move freely throughout the barn;
purchase and install new feeding systems that use radio frequency identification tags to ensure each sow receives the appropriate nutrition; and
train employees on the new systems and how to train the sows to use the feeders.
The 1,250-head barn conversion was completed last winter. As part of the funding agreement, research gathered from this barn conversion will be shared through factsheets, seminars and workshops with other Manitoba producers over the next two to five years. They will provide real-world data on barn design, equipment needs, animal nutrition and care, and employee training requirements. The 1,250-head barn conversion was completed last winter.
Manitoba uses the standards set under national codes of practice to enforce provincial legislation related to animal care and welfare. Earlier this year, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, a standard developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council, was updated. As a result, all hog barns built in Manitoba after July 1, 2014 must use loose housing models. There are stricter standards for existing barns, which must phase out gestation stalls by July 1, 2024. The code also set out standards related to animal health, husbandry and transportation. Development of the code followed national public consultations that resulted in 4,700 submissions from producers, processors, veterinarians and animal welfare advocates.
This project is funded under Growing Forward 2 – Growing Assurance. In Manitoba, the federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million (€1.25 million) under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.