The Director of the Swine Teaching and Research Center with University of Pennsylvania says the move from stall housing of gestating sows to pen housing will require superior stockmanship and a greater level of training to maximize success.
Training for the Transition from Stalls to Pens was discussed as part of the Banff Pork Seminar. Dr. Tom Parsons, the Director of the Swine Teaching and Research Center with University of Pennsylvania, says we've worked in stalls for 30 to 40 years so we understand what's required in terms of staffing and training but, as we transition to pen gestation, there's more uncertainty about who are the right people and how to train them.
"As we move forward in this transition we're trying to identify people that are going to get job satisfaction. Our experience has been there's much more opportunity for people to interact with these animals than you would in a conventional barn and so finding people that like animals, that benefit from that kind of interaction tends to make them enjoy their job more and they're going to be more motivated so certainly that's the thing," said Parsons. "One thing we think about is just getting the right person and then, in terms of training the people, we need to see what's different between the stalled barns and the conventional barns. I think in general the animals have a bigger behavioral repertoire. In a crated barn their activities are somewhat limited where as in a pen they're moving around more and a successfully trained stockperson can see subtle changes in behavior sooner and that's going to confer an advantage on them being able to intervene sooner and be able to hopefully at some point get these barns up to a higher level of management."
Parsons suggests one reason the crated systems have been so widely implemented is they didn't require the same level of stockmanship, allowing a broader choice of employees but moving into the pen barns a higher level of stockmanship will provide an opportunity to improve what happens both in terms of performance and quality of care for the sows.