Move to Pens will Require the Right People and Greater Training

Farmscape for January 20, 2017

Full Interview 7:13 Listen

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.

Clip-Dr. Tomas Parsons-University of Pennsylvania:
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. 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.

Dr. 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.

For farmscape.Ca, I’m Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork


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1 Comment

  1. Bill Geisel

    “The personality of an individual has to be such that the sow and staff benefit from interaction with all”.
    People that are great in production in a stall barn may now find themselves challenged in a loose pen operation with nothing more then there own behavioral patterns being the limitation.
    Sows react to the individuals around them regardless of species.
    Human resources will have to be ready for the change in hiring protocols and the development of pre screening and behavior tests.
    Little things like asking if the person has a pet (shows compassion) or if they hunt (shows attention to detail of animals behavior) could be part of a great hiring experience for all.
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