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Sow housing retrofits less expensive than expected
Sow housing retrofits less expensive than expected

Producers paid as little as $30 per sow place for renovations if they supplied the labour

By Kaitlynn Anderson
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Swine producers may fork out less money than expected when converting their barns to group sow housing, a recent study shows.

Researchers from Swine Innovation Porc and the Prairie Swine Centre followed 12 Canadian producers as they converted their sow barns from stall to group housing, yesterday’s Farmscape article said.

Originally, researchers estimated that renovations would cost producers between $500 and $1,000 per sow place, the article said. However, the actual conversion cost typically sat in the range of $300 to $500 – although producers can find ways to bring these expenses down even further.

For example, Ferme Pic Rouge, a swine operation in Quebec, paid $58 per sow place to convert its farrow-to-finish facility into two barns in 2010, Dr. Jennifer Brown, a research scientist at the Prairie Swine Centre, told Farms.com yesterday.

The renovations included a new feeding system, drop feeders and bowl drinkers, she said. The operation’s capacity also increased from 480 to 600 sows. Farm staff completed the labour.

Les Elevages St. Felix in Quebec also transitioned to group sow housing in 2013. Producers renovated the 250-sow farrow-to-finish operation into a 625-sow farrowing barn for a cost of $30 per sow place, Brown said. As with the previous example, the producers provided the labour for the conversion.

This decrease in cost is likely due to many operators completing the labour on their own, rather than hiring contractors, she said.

The type of feeding systems and amount of work required can also play a role, she added.

“These floor-feeding examples are the cheapest option,” Brown said. “In both cases, partially slatted finisher barns were converted to group gestation.”

For more information on the cost of barn conversions, visit the National Sow Housing Conversion Project website.

 

National Pork Board/Pork Checkoff photo