Template: Skinny | Lean | Well Rounded | Plump
Saturday, 10 January 2009 13:34

Pig housing

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General
  • Housing costs money, and to reduce costs, many pig farmers build their own, ending up with eyesores that annoy and stink out the neighbours.
  • The rooting and wallowing of pigs around their accommodation does not help the scene.
  • It’s important to decide what stock will need housing and what sort of housing they’ll need.
  • Proper commercial pig housing nowadays is insulated and air conditioned, and is a major investment. It may not be appropriate for small pig operations.
  • Houses should be built on sites safe from flooding or landslides.
  • Plenty of ventilation to avoid build up of ammonia is critical.
  • Good even airflow throughout buildings without drafts is the aim.
  • When laying concrete make sure levels are correct to avoid stagnant water pools.
  • Make sure all internal walls and surfaces can be easily cleaned by water blasting.
  • Check that there are no sharp edges or protrusions that can damage animals.
  • Make sure pigs can’t chew treated timber surfaces.
  • Pigs are inquisitive - so make sure electrical fittings are above pig level.
  • Provide locked cupboards for drugs and dangerous chemicals.
  • Make sure access to all feed bins, etc is pig proof.
  • Fire precautions are a wise move too and make sure there is more than one entrance for stock in an emergency. Smoke alarms are useful too.
  • Make sure all electrical installations are safe.
  • Pigs need to be provided with a means of keeping warm, either by huddling with mates or in shelter.
  • They are also very prone to sunburn and this is a major welfare issue so they need shade.
  • Avoid open drains. Pigs love them but they can be a source of infection and cause erosion.
Weaners
  • You can let weaners run around the paddock and graze, supplementing them with a “growers” meal fed in a creep to prevent other stock eating it.
  • They will not grow as quickly as when closely penned, but they will be a lot happier.
  • Growing-fattening pens can be made from cheap materials but can easily become an eyesore. If made outside they’ll need to be weather proof.
  • They can be built inside another building with straw bales. The whole structure can be disposed of and the area disinfected after each batch of pigs.
  • When penned on concrete they’ll need bedding to lie on, and you’ll have to clean them out regularly.
  • Pig muck stinks and attracts flies when put in an open midden or spread on the paddock. Make sure it, or any runoff, doesn’t contaminate water ways.
Porkers and baconers
  • Coming up to pork or bacon weight, if pigs have been on free range, it’s often a good idea to confine them and control their feed.
  • This stops them running off energy in the paddock that you have paid for with expensive meal.
  • The points made above about weaner housing apply - and as these pigs will be bigger they’ll need more space and bedding, and produce more muck.
Dry sows
  • These are happiest in small groups with plenty of space (to escape from each other) and oppontunities for natural activity like foraging, rooting to keep them mentally stimulated.
  • Sows fight to establish dominance and if fed together, some will eat more than they need to replace body reserves for their next birth and lactation.
  • Sow stalls are designed to prevent fighting - and they do, but the welfare of the sow isseverely compromised and hopefully sow stalls will soon be banned in New Zealand.
  • If sows are kept in groups, it’s best to have individual feeders where sows can be shut in while they eat their allocated feed, based on their body condition.
Boars
  • Boars like company but can also be kept on their own in separate paddocks if outside, or in individual pens if indoors.
  • Boars grow to be large animals and must be given adequate space. Extra-large pens are needed if sows are to be mated in the boar’s pen.
Summary of space needs for housed pigs

Minimum recommended housing and shelter areas (m2/pig)

  • Groups of growing pigs
    • Up to 10kg 0.11 m2/pig
    • 11-20kg 0.20
    • 21-40kg 0.35
    • 41-60kg 0.50
    • 61-80kg 0.70
    • 81-100kg 0.85
  • Gilts up to mating 1.00
  • Adult pigs in groups 2.50
  • Pregnant sows in individual stalls (0.6m x 2.0m) 1.20
  • Boar pens 7.70
  • Lactating sow and litter
    • Individual pens 7.4
    • Multiple-sucking group 5.6

Note: these are minimums and are most useful for intensive operations. We include them here so that lifestyle farmers are aware of the minimum space needed, more space is obviously better.

Trough space
  • Minimum recommended length of trough feeding space for housed pigs (mm).
  • Pigs of 50kg 200 mm
  • 70kg 250
  • 90kg 300
  • Above 100kg 350

Note: these are minimums and are most useful for intensive operations. We include them here so that lifestyle farmers are aware of the minimum space needed, more space is obviously better.

Temperatures
  • Temperatures (Celsius) for housed pigs in still air at normal feed intake and stocking density.
  • Sows and boars 15-30C
  • Piglets newborn 27-35
  • Piglets - 3 weeks 24-30
  • Piglets - 9 weeks 15-20
  • Weaners 20-30
  • Growers and finishers 15-30
Dr Clive Dalton

Clive did a Ph.D. in sheep breeding at the University of North Wales at Bangor. After lecturing at Leeds University, he came to New Zealand to do research with MAF. Because of his communication skills, he moved to the Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre to be fully involved in interpreting science for practical application by farmers.

After 14 years he moved to teach at the Waikato Polytechnic where he taught young future farmers. He won the 1993 Landcorp Communicator of the Year award and the 1999 Sir Arthur Ward award for agricultural communication.