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New Tool to Evaluate Swine Housing Costs Expected

by 5m Editor
14 July 2009, at 8:38am

CANADA - Scientists with the University of Manitoba hope to have a simulation model available this fall that will assist swine producers in comparing the economics of different breeding sow housing systems, writes Bruce Cochrane.

A multidisciplinary team of scientists working out of the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment is comparing the productivity and longevity of groups of breeding sows housed on conventional partially slated concrete floors to those housed on straw.

Dr. Gary Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics with the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences is evaluating the economic aspects of the systems.

He says an interactive simulation model now under development will allow producers to compare the economics of various configurations.

Gary Johnson-University of Manitoba

It's being developed in a language called STELLA and it's partially built as we speak now and we're hoping that it will be available to either farmers directly or extension people to help farmers.

The model is such that they can change parameters, they can change housing systems for example, they can change manure handling systems, they can change the sizes of number of sows that they have in their breeding herd and so forth and look at how that affects the overall profitability of the farrow to weanling sort of operation.

That's actually pretty important now because we're seeing a change in how the industry is structuring itself in that we're seeing that, rather than having farrow to finish barns now, we're seeing more separate farrowing and weanling operations and then you have nursery barns and finishing barns associated with that farrow to weanling operation.


Dr. Johnson says scientists are now estimating key parameters and fine tuning some portions of the model.

He hopes, toward the end of September, to have a model ready to go out to extension people and farmers.