Project Planning

What you do with the herd during transition will have a impact on the economics. Reducing the herd will result in loss of income for a long period of time due to lost production, cost of replacement gilts and low productivity as the herd is rebuilt. If sows can remain in production by moving them off site/ or renovating one section at a time (while maintaining biosecurity), will result in substantial reduction in costs.

Project preparation/Decision making process

Good planning of the project

    1. Acquire all necessary permits
    2. Herd visits with other producers
      • Before choosing the system
      • Before transitioning to a group-management system
      • Discuss with producers who have completed the transition

Transition period

    • What should I do with the animals during renovation or construction?
      1. Depopulation?
      2. Relocation?
        • Find a farm/building with good quality flooring.┬áDo not want to increase the number of bruises or leg problems in sows associated with poor flooring.
      3. Reduction of sow inventory.
        • Look at increasing the culling rate of higher parity sows and plan for quicker sow turnover during transition.
        • Consider talking about starting early culling of problem sows before making the change to group sow housing.
        • It is important to have a good parity distribution.
      4. Increase animal inventory
        • Implications related to right-sizing the herd, in addition to facilitating movement of animals.

Room by Room

Many herds have minimized the impact on the sow herd by doing a gradual renovation. The risk with this is that workers doing the renovation work could bring pathogens into the barn. Isolate the construction are using temporary walls/ plastic barriers, consider providing a separate entrance for construction workers, develop entry procedures and train workers on the importance of biosecurity and barn entry procedures.

Moving to Another Site

If a clean barn site is available, sows can be moved off site for farrowing. Usually older sows will be moved and farrowed out. In most cases the sows are culled/do not return as returning them to the herd can pose a biosecurity risk.