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Research Shows Large Groups of Pigs as Productive as Small Groups

by 5m Editor
23 June 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1284. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1284

Research at the Prairie Swine Centre shows the productivity of pigs housed in large groups is almost identical to that of pigs housed in small groups.

The conventional way of housing grower finisher pigs is in groups of 20 to 40 pigs per pen. Research Scientist Dr. Harold Gonyou says, with today's larger capacity production, it may make sense to increase those groups.

"With the larger farms that we have today producing well over one thousand pigs per week, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we should continue to divide our pens up in so many small pens.

We're looking at housing pigs in group sizes of 100, 200, perhaps 500 or even one thousand pigs in one pen.

Our studies have been focusing on group sizes of about 100 pigs in a pen. This is from weights of about 25 kilograms up to market weight of 110.

We found that productivity will either be equal or perhaps slightly less, one percent less, in those very large groups so that relates to about one extra day getting to market.

That decrease in productivity, when we've seen it, has almost always been within the first two weeks of going into the pen so it would seem that initially, in that large pen where they have more area to explore, they are a little bit slower at the very start and then they catch up and in the last few weeks they seem to be exceeding the small groups in terms of growth rate."

Dr. Gonyou suggests any slight loss of productivity will be more than offset by reduced facility costs.

He says, when you go to large groups, aisle space is eliminated saving five to eight percent of floor space which can be used for more pigs and the cost of penning is reduced.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor