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Towards January 2013: Updates, implications and options for group housing pregnant sows

A new Teagasc report on the group housing of pigs was launched in Portlaoise today, Friday, 11 May. The report, titled Towards January 2013: Updates, implications and options for group housing pregnant sows, outlines the various options for group housing of pigs and will be a reference document for producers switching to group housing.

From January next, dry sows and served gilts must be housed in groups and not in individual pens for most of the time. The conditions under which pigs are kept are laid down in SI 311 of 2010, European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations. There are a number of aspects of these regulations to be implemented on pig units. From 1 January 2013, pig producers will not be permitted to confine pregnant sows in individual pens, or stalls during the period from 4 weeks after service to one week before the expected date of farrowing. During this time pregnant sows/gilts must be kept in groups.

A key part of the Teagasc/IFA Joint Programme will focus on Pig Health and Welfare. This publication serves as a reference document on group housing for Irish pig producers into the future; it provides a set of blueprints for the guidance of producers in selecting and designing loose housing systems. It also incorporates best practice guidelines on mixing sows, rearing and management of replacement gilts, preventing and treating lameness in loose housed sows, feeding loose housed sows (including use of high fibre diets), and environmental enrichment.

Head of the Teagasc Pigs Programme, Ciaran Carroll said: “Ultimately, trained staff with a good temperament and attitude to animals, feeding adequate amounts of a nutritionally adequate diet, and good housing conditions are the principal determinants of good animal welfare. This publication will assist producers and farm staff in making the correct decisions for their pigs and their business.”