When reconstructing sow housing, more space per animal could be the better solution, Ron Bates, Michigan State University swine genetics management professor, told attendees at the World Pork Expo on June 6.
There is no clear-cut approach to reconfiguring barn space, Bates said. Producers will want to be able to maintain as much sow inventory as possible, but there are other issues to look at, as well. Animal welfare and the producer's ability to monitor the sows are just as important.
"The more sows you have in a pen, it's much harder to evaluate individuals, particularly in short stalls. Your eyes and your ears are very important in evaluating sows," he said. "Trying to maintain the inventory is not your only consideration. You have to think of sow comfort, sow welfare, how we're going to manage not only the sows in pens, but also the sows that have been injured."
Bates also cautioned World Pork Expo attendees to take some time and do the research on what kind of barn configuration will work best for the individual operation and to think of what's best, rather than what's expedient.