Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Author(s): Rocky Morrill
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Reference: Proceedings of the 2004 Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium
Country: Canada


Large group penning in finishing barns have three main economic advantages; reduction of labour costs, higher percentage of hogs in the target weight zone, and increased utilization of space. Large group pens contain a large group of pigs that need to enter a food court to eat and drink and must pass through a sorter based on weight. It is a response to the stress and labour intensive method of individual weighing. An example of a typical large group finisher operation is an 8000 head barn; 8 rooms of 1000 pigs each with totally slatted floors. The pens were roughly 200 feet by 40 feet, requiring 2 sorters per room. The food court is accessed 2 to 3 times per day (there should be enough space so pigs can go in for as long as they wish). The feeders should not be overcrowded, but there should not be too much space that they create a sleeping area next to the entrance and block pig flow. When it comes to load-out, the pigs that have reached market weight were sorted into a separate area of the penning. This section requires a separate feeding area as well, which can add complications. Equipment needed for all of this includes a sorter and scale, one-way gates, and an air compressor. When pigs are first introduced into this system there will be minimal fighting which is advantageous for growth. Health checking is a different process because of the size of groups. Hospital pens should be created to minimize disease and manage withdrawal times before market. The size of the group also helps to prevent the hierarchy that pigs develop. It is much more difficult in a pen of 1000 pigs for the “boss hog” to be crowned. This makes mixing and loading of animals much, much easier. Training is generally accomplished by an open-door food court for the first 3 days and then gradually restricting the flow. The sorter should only be activated once it appears that market weights are going to begin being reached. This is great for reducing labour and stress on both the animals and the workers. There are also advantages over the mortality and average daily gain/feed conversion. Time is saved in power washing due to less partitioning/wall space (time per room can be reduce by a half or even a third!). Economically, the conversion costs roughly $20,000 per 1000 pigs. There are huge annual savings from fewer employees required and an increase in the number of pigs processed through the barn.

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