This paper describes the facilities and labor requirements of a low-input (LI) housing system for a feeder-pig operation. The system used low cost facilities and also hied to reduce labor inputs. The system was compared to a standard intensive production unit for 12 months. In the low input systems sows were housed in pens with straw and fed ad libitum every other day during gestation. One of the disadvantages observed was frozen ground during winter, resulting in sows showing signs of sore feet, however, none of them became permanently lame. Another drawback was poor drainage near waterers, which froze in winter or turned into mud-holes in spring, resulting in additional expenses for refilling these holes with dirt. Also, the lack of flexibility, due to the small number of pens, resulted in the need to move weaned pigs to another building. Fially, one of the major problems with the housing system was the high preweaning mortality, and reduced weight gain of piglets observed in the fmt two groups, indicating a need to improve the piglets' environment in the farrowing pen. Therefore, this pen was modified to include the use of farrowing cubicles and three separated areas: a creep area, a sow-feeder area, and a laying area. The farrowing cubicles improved piglet survival and allowed the producer to collect individual sow data. The advantages of this housing system include: (1) feeding sows in gestation was simplified compared to standard manual feeding systems. This allowed (2) easy identification of sick sows; (3) gilts remaining in good body condition even after 7 weeks of lactation. The mom temperatures recorded in this building together with the high piglet mortality observed suggest that this housing design is better suited for the adult pig environmental needs than those of the piglets.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Bo Algers for his assistance in the design of this project. This investigation was made possible by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, Low Input Sustainable Agriculture Program (LNC 88-20) and by Covejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Mexico. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, Vol. 3(3/4) 1993 Q 1993 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved