As consumer awareness of animal welfare grows, group sow housing has gained acceptance. In Europe, group housing is obligatory but in Asia, conglomerates are pushing it. Moreover, group housing proves to be a better payoff in the long run. As producers like Betagro in Thailand move to end crate farrowing and invest in group housing, we look at the viability, investment and time required for such adaptation, creating a win-win situation. In this podcast Hans Hoevink, Business Development Manager Asia of Nedap Livestock Management tells the Asian Agribiz Community:
- As consumer awareness on animal welfare and food safety grows, corporations such as Betagro and CP Foods are setting the pace for Asia by pioneering group housing. It registers high on assurance and credibility, especially post Covid-19. The consensus is that consumer influence on how animals are raised, will play a bigger part in farming practices.
- Group housing strengthens pig health, as being in a group lowers stress and encourages good behavior such as better feed intake, more movement and increased social interactions – all together contributing to longevity in the long run.
- Group size can start at five and be helped by the installation of electronic sow feeders. Dynamic groups can host more than 300 sows while smaller groups can take around 20-30 sows per pen.
- Smart farming technologies that can be adapted into group sow housing include electronic sow feeding (ESF), and radio-frequency identification (RFID). ESF can optimize food intake and reduce waste. Meanwhile, RFID data collection enable micro-monitoring of animal health, revolutionizing farm management. These technologies raise standards of animal husbandry and ethical treatment of pigs at all stages of production.
- Farmers contemplating transitions have abundant knowledge and training available from suppliers who are ready to show and tell how group housing has been successfully integrated in European countries.