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.
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.
Stephen Moffett, Moffett Farms
Stephen Moffett owns Moffet Farms, a 1200 sow farrow-to-wean operation located in Sussex, New Brunswick. The barn was built new in 2004. The gestation room has 16 pens with 60 sows per pen, using CanArm and Schauer ESF feeders. The sows are bred weekly and managed in static groups.Find Out More
Wim van Wijk, Horst Farms
Wim van Wijk is the owner and operator of Horst Farms, a 275 sow farrow-to- finish farm located near Red Deer, Alberta. In 2013 he was considering a herd depopulation to address a disease problem and decided that this was a good opportunity to move to groups. The timing could not have been […]Find Out More
Matador Colony is near Swift Current Saskatchewan. The farrow-to-finish pig operation has 600 sows and was opened in early 2015 with 11 Nedap ESF units being used for different age females in a Dynamic group setting. The ESF units allow mixing of 2 different feed rations plus the addition of growth curves. They are using […]Find Out More
Geert Geene, Amberley Bacon Company
Amberley Bacon Company is a 1400 sow farrow-to-wean barn located in Huron County, Ontario. The new barn was built in 2011, with gestating sows housed in groups fed via a competitive feeding system. Geene’s family had always managed sows in groups, so group housing was a natural choice when designing the new barn.Find Out More