Herd Profile

Doug Ahrens runs a 650 sow farrow-to-wean barn in Sebringville, Ontario and is very active in the swine industry, serving as a director with Ontario Pork and Chair of the 2015 London Swine Conference. His sow barn was originally built in 1996, and in 2013 a 6,720 ft2 addition was added to create space for group gestation. The gestation barn is curtain sided to provide natural light and ventilation, and contains one large group pen with 5 Weda ESF feeders. The room houses 260 sows and gilts at 25.8ft²/sow, and has a maximum capacity of 300 sows.

 

  • 650 farrow-to-wean
  • one Dynamic group with 5 ESF units
See Conversion Process

Process

Sows and gilts on Ahren’s farm are bred in stalls in weekly groups of 28 animals, and are weekly added to the main group pen at 40 days gestation. By expanding the barn to accommodate group sow housing, no reduction in herd numbers was needed during the renovation phase. During the implementation period, there was an initial drop in sow productivity as employees and animals adjusted to the new facility, but within 6 months production levels had returned to normal, with a 90% farrowing rate and 12.7 piglets born alive/litter.

After experiencing some difficulties with initial training of sows and gilts on the ESF system, Ahrens has since constructed a separate training area for incoming gilts to address this problem. It is particularly important that gilts be trained correctly before entering the pen, especially in a dynamic group system as the presence of older sows can intimidate gilts and the large pen area makes it more difficult implement training.

Gilts must also be exposed to stalls before the farowing stage so they are comfortable in the farrowing room. Ahren’s includes stall training before gilts join the main group.

Layout

Ahrens barn layout