Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Loose-housing gathers together international experts online

Fifty scientists and industry representatives from over 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America came together at an online workshop to share experience and knowledge about the production of loose lactating sows.

Solutions should be based on research
On 12 and 13 August 2021, a number of experts shared their knowledge and experience of producing loose lactating sows at an international workshop - Freedom in Farrowing and Lactation 2021” (FFL21).

Christian Fink Hansen, Sector Director, SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre, gave a presentation in which he emphasised the importance of a good transition to a loose housing system.

"We have moved from discussing if and when to a discussion about how this is going to happen in terms of the requirements for loose lactating sows.”

With the requirement that Danish sows must be loose housed during their lactation period, it is important that solutions are future proof and do not adversely affect production, Christian Fink pointed out.

There is agreement across countries and among scientists that the transition to loose lactating sows is complex. 

Christian Fink Hansen also emphasised the importance of current knowledge about loose sows being integrated into the political decision-making process, including welfare issues. Knowledge about climate and the environment and - not least - pig producers’ earning potential should also be included.

Environmental considerations in the pen
Chief Scientist Dr. Vivi Aarestrup Moustsen from SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre also gave a presentation at the international workshop. This covered the importance of environmental considerations in the pen which can make a difference to ammonia and odour emissions.

"It is important that pens are a designed with a reduced slurry surface, and with as large a proportion of solid floor as possible. It is also crucial that the slurry in the housing unit is removed frequently to reduce methane emissions," added Moustsen.

"If there is a large quantity of dirt on a solid floor, this impacts the working environment, animal welfare and the health and growth of the pigs. This is why many producers opt for a fully drained floor when designing farrowing pens for loose sows even though this leads to greater evaporation and more environmental requirements in terms of the regulation. This is due to the fact that – when it comes to slatted floors - the regulation is determined on the basis of production area and pen design.”

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