Reporting from the latest annual meeting of the InterPig group of pig industry economists, Michael Martin of Irish agriculture and food development authority Teagasc said participants from 13 countries shared notes on how sow housing in European Union (EU) member states complied currently with the EU legislation, due January 1, 2013, requiring dry sows to be loose-housed rather than in single stalls.

According to the delegates, only 25% of herds in Ireland comply currently and they hold 35% of the national sow inventory. France has similar rates of 30% of herds and 27% of sows. At the other extreme, 59% of herds in the Netherlands holding 56% of Dutch sows already have the group gestation systems that will be required across the EU.

About 60% of sows in Belgium and 50% in Germany are in loose housing. The figure for Denmark’s sows is as high as 70%, but for Spain it is only 20%. There continue to be warnings of an impending reduction in EU pig numbers because the owners of non-complying facilities will not be able to afford the investment needed to change to housing sows in groups.