Alternative Winter Farrowing Demonstration Project: Two Year Summary

Date
2005-01-01
Authors
Lammers, Peter
Harmon, Jay
Honeyman, Mark
Harmon, Jay
Major Professor
Advisor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Altmetrics
Authors
Harmon, Jay
Person
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Series
Department
Abstract

There is growing demand in Iowa for pigs raised outdoors or in a deep-bedded system without the use of antibiotics, growth promotants, or animal by-products. Currently, most producers selling naturally-raised pork, market their animals to a company that requires adherence to the Animal Welfare Institute’s (AWI) Animal Welfare Standards. One of the key components of these standards is the prohibition of farrowing crates. While a pasture farrowing system is effective during spring, summer, and fall, an alternative system is needed to farrow pigs in the winter for the naturally-raised pork market.

There are a variety of farrowing systems currently being used during cold weather to farrow pigs for the natural pork market. In general, all rely upon a primary heat source capable of maintaining a room temperature of at least 50ºF and auxiliary heat sources (heat lamps, bedding pack, hovers) to create a warmer microclimate for the young pigs. The use of adequate bedding and a design in harmony with the natural instincts of the pigs is key to the success of the example systems. A final critical consideration is a breeding program that insures sows in a particular room farrow within a short time frame (7 days or less) of each other to facilitate subsequent group lactation.

With an increasing interest in winter farrowing to meet the naturally-raised pork market, Iowa State University embarked on a project funded by the Leopold Center to demonstrate alternative farrowing systems in cold weather. In 2002, a 150,000 Btu/hr radiant heater tube was purchased and installed in an existing building on the Allee Demonstration Farm near Newell, IA. Modified A-frame farrowing huts designed for pasture farrowing were set-up in a double row down the center of the building. In the winter of 2002/2003, 36 litters were farrowed in this system. A total of 293 pigs were weaned for an average of 8.14 pigs/litter. Total energy expense for producing those 293 pigs was $4.94/pig weaned. In the winter of 2003/2004, 20 litters were farrowed and a total of 132 pigs were weaned. Weaning averages for 2003/2004 was 6.6 pigs/litter and an associated energy expenses of $7.73/pig weaned. The 2003/2004 winter was more severe. Over the two winter farrowing periods, 425 pigs were weaned from 56 litters for an average of 7.59 pigs/litter. Average energy cost for producing those animals was $5.81/pig weaned.

Comments
Description
Keywords
Citation
Source
Collections