Farmweld Gestation Stanchion offers an open-pen gestation solution that protects each sow through the shoulder, ensuring less dominant-sow interruptions at feeding time. Stainless-steel legs, floor strap, double trough and uniform heavy weld divider ensure durability and longevity.
The Farmweld Gestation Stanchion is available in various sizes.
As of the summer of 2019, when Farmweld inserted the article named ‘Group Sow Housing: No one size fits all.’ into pork industry magazines, 10 states had banned gestation-sow stalls, as had approximately 50 companies across the packer/processor, foodservice, retail and branded-product sectors — all with varying implementation deadlines. Roughly, 50 percent of the U.S. herd at that time was estimated to be housed in some form of group system.
At that time the Eastern Corn Belt had more group housing and the Western Corn Belt had more options for stalls.
Costs can range from $500 to more than $1,000 per sow. Retrofitting a facility may be the least-cost option, provided the facility’s structural condition is sound and the flooring, ventilation and manure-management systems can accommodate the new configuration. Retrofitted barns will lose some capacity.
Open-pen gestation takes a more focused strategy to monitor a sow’s appetite, body condition, skin, soundness and other functions such as respiration, temperature and feces/urine output. The observation window is shorter to identify sick or lame sows, ultrasound, vaccinate and check the feed system so multiple employees may be needed at the same time per pen.
Sow aggression is always a concern in groups because it can spiral into other well-being and productivity problems. Although aggression often centers around feed, some sows are just bullies so close monitoring is essential throughout, not just at initial mixing.
Mortality rates for group-housed sows run higher than in farms using gestation farms and young-parity retention will be lower. However, other productivity measures such as total born and pigs weaned match sows in gestation stalls.