Three U.S. pork producers will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. June 9, in the Nedap U.S. booth, V525, at World Pork Expo to talk with fellow producers about making the switch to group sow housing. These three individuals own or manage facilities that have transitioned from gestation stalls to group gestation pens with electronic sow feeding systems.
Jayce Mountain Pork
Walter Laut and his team populated a start-up farrowing facility with group gestation pens in the summer of 2015. Jayce Mountain Pork near Fredericktown, Mo., is home to 3,500 sows and farrows about 175 sows per week.
“When I talk to guys who are looking at group housing options, I hear them asking the same questions I had before we transitioned,” says Laut, who is a co-owner of Jayce Mountain Pork. “Our transition has been a good experience, although it was not without challenges. We made this transition because we are trying to keep up with technology and improve our system every day while maintaining our family farm values and standards. We look forward to sharing what we’ve learned.”
Sows at Jayce Mountain Pork are divided by parities in groups of as many as 275 sows per gestation pen. Each group pen includes six electronic sow feeders, an automated separation unit, an enclosed boar pen for heat detection and bunkers where groups of about 10 sows can rest comfortably.
Gilts are brought into isolation for four weeks before they move to the gilt-development unit. Before breeding, they are trained for two weeks to use the electronic feeding system.
Tim Friedel and Steve Horton are the production manager and sow service manager at Thomas Livestock of Broken Bow, Neb. The 5,500 group-housed sows in Thomas Livestock’s Georgetown facility are averaging 36 pigs per sow per year. The Georgetown facility has 22 full-time employees helping sows to farrow around the clock, seven days a week.
“After our first experience, we are confident with the group gestation pens and electronic sow feeding equipment,” Friedel says, “We feel the experience we gained can help others work through changes in their operations.”
Pork producers unable to attend World Pork Expo can email group housing questions to Brad Carson, [email protected].