At the World Pork Expo last week the hot topic of conversation (other than corn condition ratings and pig price expectations) was the ongoing gestation housing debate. While many producers were outraged at the decision process of McDonald’s, Kroger, Safeway, etc, the general consensus appeared to be a grudging acceptance of a move away from gestation crates over the next 8-10 years.
In my conversations with many producers, I had one production group that I work with raise the following question – what will be the impact to breeding herd productivity during the transition from crated gestation to alternative housing systems?
I hadn’t thought about this before. I’ve been in crate free gestation facilities and overall weaned pig production is very similar to crated gestation systems. However, everyone talks about the learning curve to learn the new system. The real question being asked – what is the cost of learning and implementing alternative systems of production?