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From Statistics Canada the Daily, August 18:

“As of July 1, there were 7,035 hog farms in Canada, up 0.1% from the same date a year earlier. These farms reported 1.2 million sows and gilts, up 0.7% from July 1, 2015.

Canada exported 2.9 million hogs in the first half of 2016, down 0.1% from the same period in 2015. There was continued strong demand for hogs in the United States. According to the most recent US data, hog inventories reached their highest June 1 level in over 50 years, up 2.0% from June 1, 2015. Hog slaughter in the US was 1% higher in the first six months of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.

Hog slaughter increased in Canada in the first six months of 2016, up 1.3% from the same period in 2015 to 10.6 million head.

The January-to-June 2016 pig crop was 14.4 million head, up 2.2% from the same period in 2015.”

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The Swine Expert Network of the OAHN has issued a quarterly report:

OAHN logoOntario Animal Health Network Swine Q4 2015 Producer Report

Highlights

  • OAHN Swine Network Project to investigate weaned pig morbidity and mortality rates, the major causes of morbidity and mortality and to assess therapeutic interventions. Currently enrolling nurseries…
  • Influenza A virus detection is on the rise. News you need to know about this virus
  • *NEW OAHN Swine Network Podcast Series on Influenza A virus. Part I now available: www.oahn.podbean.com 
  • OVC Swine Research Findings on resistance genes & post-weaning anemia with regards to zinc oxide in feed rations
  • Information on how you can stay up to date with OAHN…

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A notice from Ontario Pork:

Ontario Pork is hosting a PED Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, December 3rd between 12:00 and 1:00PM EST for the pork industry. Register here to be called for this free, live event with Ontario Pork. This call will provide an update on the current PED situation and actions being taken by the Ontario pork industry. Topics to be discussed include the following:

  • How we are keeping track of PED – truck wash, transport, assembly and processor surveillance, control and elimination progress and service provider involvement
  • Research Results
  • OMAFRA Update
  • Question and Answers

We will be automatically dialing out to our provincial producers and others who have registered for the event and have provided us with their phone numbers. Please note only direct or mobile phone numbers will be accepted.

Register Here

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The income shown for the market pig in the recently posted October 2014 OMAFRA Swine budget was $244.45, up over $52.00 from the October 2013 Swine Budget. The difference was realized through an increased market pig base price (up $40/ckg, 100 index) and a heavier dressed carcass weight (up 3.54 kg). The increased market hog income along with a decreased farrow to finish feed cost (down $7.83 per market pig) led to a net return improvement of over $60 per market hog from October 2013. For more information see the 2014 October Monthly Swine Budget on the OMAFRA website:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/swine/facts/info-b-oct2014.pdf

You can subscribe to receive the monthly budgets (and the bimonthly Pork News and Views newsletter) by email here:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/subscribe/index.html

 

 

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The following report was published in the October issue of the Pork News and Views newsletter. Selected resources from the Workshop Manual are available at www.ontariopork.ca under “Production Standards-Animal Care Resources” or www.prairieswine.com.

Sow Housing Workshop

 

 

OMAFRA, with support from Ontario Pork and Prairie Swine Centre (PSC), held a very successful Group Sow Housing Workshop this past September in Stratford. The one-day workshop was presented on consecutive days and limited to 50 participants each day to allow for greater participation and discussion. It provided practical information on group sow management, sow feeding systems and helped answer questions about renovations and new design which followed the new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs that was released in Canada this past spring. Three Ontario producers described their experiences transitioning to group sow housing systems followed by Dr. Jennifer Brown and Dr. Yolande Seddon, Prairie Swine Centre Group Sow Housing researchers, discussing the merits of each system. Dr. Kees de Lange, University of Guelph, explained how feeding systems need to change for a successful transition to feeding sows in group housing. The following is a brief report on the workshop.

 

New Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs

 

 

 

The new Code was released in March this year. Dr. Brown presented an overview of relevant areas. It includes changes to sow housing, pain management, space allowances, and environmental enrichment. For new construction there is a requirement that by July 1, 2014 mated gilts and sows must be housed in groups, with allowances around breeding and group management. As of July 1, 2024, gilts and sows must be housed in groups, or in individual pens, or in stalls if they are provided with the opportunity to turn around or exercise periodically, or otherwise have greater freedom of movement (suitable options will be clarified by July 1, 2019 based on scientific evidence). The Code is available at: www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/pigs.

 

National Sow Housing Conversion Project (NSHCP)

Dr. Brown also presented a summary of a project that will develop and document demonstration sites across the country to provide resources and advice for producers, and to create a central database of information. Producers will be able to see examples and evaluate different group housing systems. The project is looking for producers interested in barn renovations for group housing in 2015-2016, and who would be interested in sharing herd information and renovation documentation. In exchange, producers will receive: expert advice on renovation planning, management; training assistance with funding applications; and compensation for research barn access.

 

Group Housing with ESF

Mr. Doug Ahrens presented his experiences in setting up a system using Electronic Sow Feeding (ESF) and dynamic group housing. Dr. Brown then provided a comparison of group housing vs. individual stalls, and the possible impacts on sow welfare and production levels. She outlined the options available for group housing (feeding system, flooring, grouping strategy, grouping timing). In all there are 72 combinations of these factors that could be used:

What are the options?*

Feeding Floor Grouping Timing Total
Floor
Short stall Slat Static Weaning
Gated stall Partial Dynamic Pre-Implantation
ESF Bedded Post-Implantation
4 x3 x2 x3 =72

*From H. Gonyou

 

She compared aspects of the options and reported a Quebec industry analysis of the cost of conversion for different housing options, and the floor space requirements of the different feed systems. Acknowledging that early attempts with ESF systems encountered several challenges, she pointed out that technology, equipment design, and our own familiarity with computers has come a long way in 20 years. There is an increasing number of manufacturers, growing expertise, and a competitive market with new developments expected.

The possible advantages of dynamic mixing she highlighted were: more flexible and efficient use of space; sows can be added over 10 weeks (but at least 10 sows each time); if a sow returns, she can enter in the next cycle; less overall space is required (fewer pens and alleys). Among the disadvantages is the potential for repeated aggression on mixing, but if mixing is well managed aggression can be kept low.

Mr. John Van Engelen presented his experience in converting stalls to a group housing system using ESF. Dr. Seddon followed with an overview of pen configurations and management strategies to consider when implementing ESF. A common problem is that of ‘sow recycling’, when sows repeatedly enter the ESF system to try to get more feed. This reduces sow throughput, can cause some sows to miss a feeding, create stress and competition, and increase wear and tear on the equipment. Steps to reduce recycling include designing the layout so it is farther to walk to regain access (e.g. by using a dividing wall), using a shutter or retractable feed bowl, and ensuring feeders are not overstocked.

Dr. Seddon illustrated a number of barn designs and rules of thumb when considering the layout of ‘bedroom’ lying areas, alleyways and areas of passing, conserving space (especially when converting from an existing barn footprint), and the importance of flooring to sow leg health. The importance of training was emphasized, and a number of tips provided. Both producers who spoke about ESF indicated that training had been a challenge and that starting with their gilts would have been a better approach. She concluded with some good general management and grouping strategies.

 

Competitive Feeding Systems

Mr. Geert Geene provided information on his group housing system using a trough based drop feed system. Dr. Seddon followed with and outline of different competitive feedings systems, space considerations, and pen design and management strategies. Floor feeding vs. non gated stall systems, different flooring types, and building space requirements were compared. Although there is generally lower capital costs compared to ESF, there are challenges around controlling individual feeding and dominant sows. With careful management and observation these can be managed, but this probably requires more labour than an ESF system. She provided a comprehensive overview of factors to consider when making a decision, including barn design, feeder types, and space allowances.

 

Sow Nutrition

Dr. de Lange presented a thorough overview of “Nutrition for group sow housing”. He starting with the observations that, while the number of pigs born has increased, it is lightweight pigs that have increased, and that birth weight influences body weight at market time. This led to his outline of strategies to improve gestation feeding to improve sow lifetime productivity through an increase in piglet birth weight with increasing litter size, while controlling feed costs, improving sow welfare, and decreasing nutrient losses to the environment. Recommended interventions are ‘bump feeding’ of no more than 0.40 kg/d during late gestation, and the use of fiber sources to induce satiety and reduce abnormal behaviour.

He outlined some nutritional aspects of different feeding systems for group housing and their varying requirements for space, capital investment, and operator skill. He suggests that ESF offers the most potential for the dynamic and precision feeding of individual sows.

 

Summary

The workshop was well attended and generated a lot of questions and good discussion on the producer reports and the options and issues presented by the three researchers.

The manual included handouts from the presenters and a number of relevant resources including excerpts from the Code of Practice and factsheets and information on sow housing and behaviour from the Prairie Swine Centre. Selected resources are available at www.ontariopork.ca under “Production Standards-Animal Care Resources” or www.prairieswine.com.

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We may not be quite experiencing a heat wave yet, but there is sure to be hot weather coming. Anyone caring for livestock needs to be prepared for high temperatures.

OMAFRA has produced a free Heat Stress in Livestock and Poultry app for smartphones that can help determine when livestock are at risk of heat stress on the spot, either in the barn or at time of transport.

By entering the current temperature and relative humidity on your smartphone you can estimate heat stress risks quickly and easily. The app also suggests steps to take to reduce heat stress to maintain feed intake and productivity.

appCheck it out here.

The app is useful in assessing a whether a crisis is imminent, but routine maintenance can help avoid risk too. This would be a good time to clean fans, check that louvers and inlets are moving freely, and clean up the sensors and controllers. Ventilation systems need to be working at maximum efficiency and need to be tuned properly to maintain temperature and humidity at acceptable levels. A ventilation system failure can be catastrophic. Even alarm systems can fail so constant vigilance is required when things get hot.

When it it does get really hot outside, ventilation alone can’t provide adequate cooling. When pigs are too hot, they don’t eat. Pigs that don’t eat don’t grow. This is most apparent in heavier pigs nearing market, when the upper preferred temperature of the pig is only around 21C.

There are a few things that can be done to help keep pigs from overheating. Pigs need to lose heat either by contact with a cold surface, or through evaporation of water from their body surface. Since they don’t sweat, that moisture must come from somewhere else. Water sprinklers or drip systems are effective ways of providing relief from heat stress. 1-2 minutes of sprinkling every 20-30 minutes is all that is needed. Time it so that the water is nearly all evaporated before reaching the floor, and so that the ventilation system has time to clear the humidity before the next application.

Adequate drinking water is absolutely critical. Make sure there are enough drinkers for your animals. Go get wet and cool off yourself by thoroughly inspecting every drinker in your barn.

If you can’t make use of the Heat Stress app, this table can be used instead. The intersection of current temperature and humidity indicates the level of stress pigs may be facing, and the level of response that needs to be taken to reduce it (see below for some more options).

 

Signs of heat stress
• Evident discomfort/distress, pigs lying apart, body stretched out
• Manure patterns change, pen floors become wet/dirty, pigs all dirty
• Increased water consumption (up to 6x normal)
• Noticeable decrease in pen activity, slowness and lethargy
• Muscle trembling
• Rapid fall in feed consumption/reduced weight gains, pigs seem to stall out
• Very high respiration rate (panting)

Pigs will try to increase heat dissipation and decrease body heat production. Producers can aid this by making sure that:

• Pigs have unrestricted access to a good supply of clean water
• Timed water sprinkler/mister system triggered by room temperature
• Proper ventilation for the size of room/weight of pig/time of year
• Enough pen space for size of pigs, do not overcrowd (all the pigs can lie down without touching each other and still access feeders/waterers/dunging area without stepping on pen mates)
• Diets can be reformulated in the summer to be more nutrient dense, while ensuring
nutrient needs (amount/day) are still being met.

Transport during any season is also an area the can cause heat stress in pigs and may result in death loss. When possible try to:
• Load animals in groups less than five
• Adjust transport to early morning or at night (summer)
• Load fewer pigs per load on hot, humid days
• Provide wet shavings when temperature is over 15C, do not use straw
• When temperature is over 27C, sprinkle pigs with a course spray of water prior to loading
• Do not pour large amounts over cold water over on an overheated pig as the shock may kill it
• Load and unload promptly to avoid heat buildup
• Death loss due to heat stress is most often attributed to power outages in hog barns when there is no alternate power source or power loss back-up plan. Test your alternate power generation and power outage alarms monthly for fan operated barns
(static pressure barns). Check panic doors/drop curtain releases for natural ventilated barns. Heat build-up non-ventilated barns can cause fatalities in all seasons.

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Visit the OMAF/MRA exhibit at the OPC for information about environmental enrichment for pigs, the Ontario Grading Data Explorer computer program, hog marketing, and more.

ENRICHMENT

What are enrichment toys?
Materials and objects suitable for chewing and rooting are often called enrichment toys.
Why do pigs need enrichment toys?
All pigs have a need to chew and root. By providing en-richment toys this need is satisfied and tail and ear biting may be reduced.
How many toys do I need?
Too few toys will result in competition. Have enough toys in different locations so that as many pigs as possible can easily use them at the same time.
Can I make them myself?
Yes, you can make your own enrichment toys. Pick up our flyer with links to websites that provide instructions and information on enrichment toys.

GDXMain
ONTARIO GRADING DATA EXPLORER

Easy access to online grading data to help in decision making and in hitting production targets to improve revenue. 

Ask to arrange for a demonstration, or pick up a brochure for more information.

HOG MARKETING

Take on the Hog Marketing Challenge. It is meant to be a learning experience on paper with no money or pigs involved but using real time market information. Put your market knowledge and expertise to work and learn how some marketing tools function.

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