A little less than 10 years ago, the European Union succumbed to pressure to eliminate dry sow stalls and the same trend to build this style of barn in North America seemed to be insurmountable.
Why this management technique was not more widely adapted may be a matter of conjecture, but some producers in Ontario saw it as the wave of the future and did introduce this technology. In this issue, writer Mike Mulhern looks at what works now on Ontario farms. More straw handling may be involved and there will be more hands-on work with pigs, so a different management style is required, some producers warn. The pressure to move to loose housing for gestating sows is growing south of the border and in Canada as well.
Crateless farrowing may be the next development. Norman Dunn, our European contributor, addresses that phase in his monthly column, starting on page 40. And, on page 36, veterinarian Ernest Sanford warns there are signs that swine dysentery, thought to be eliminated in the 1990s, is making a comeback.
A keen topic of discussion in the rural countryside since it was announced in the provincial budget in March is the voluntary, self-directed Risk Management Program. Some producers have expressed concerns that it might result in countervail from our major trading partner, the United States. Patrick O’Neil, Ontario Pork’s marketing strategist, addresses that issue on page 46.