Gestation Housing Systems, Auditing Best Management Practices
The deadline to convert to group sow housing systems is 2024. In order to help this transition go smoothly, best management practices were looked at in 24 Canadian farms. Two thirds of the barns that have already switched over use non-competitive systems such as free-access or electronic sow feeding (ESF) systems. The direct competitive feeding system is typically cheaper when converting, though ESF systems collect data that can be used to manage the herd and can feed multiple gestation diets. Pregnant sows need parity segregated phase-feeding as the amino acid and energy requirements differ. To ensure group productivity, timing of group formation is important. They should be formed prior to day 7 or after day 28 due to implantation. Benefits are found when keeping the sows in uniform groups, especially for the younger sows, as less incidences of lameness are noted. To minimize aggression in sow group housing, enrichment is a recommended practice.