Hogs Are Getting Crowded As They Remain On The Farm Longer
Who could predict all that it means to hog producers during a pandemic? Especially when it comes to processing facilities shutting down and not able to take your pigs. Pork producers are challenged with keeping pigs on the farm longer and are dealing with relieving the stress in crowded pig houses. Unwanted behavior, like tail biting, starts to surface when pigs are under stress from overcrowding and competition for space. Some think that tail biting is a result of redirected behavior due to a lack of proper environmental stimulation. Tail biting is believed to impact the welfare and productivity of the pigs, resulting in slower growth, carcass devaluation, increased costs to the producer, and pain experienced by the pig.
As your pigs grow in static pen spaces, you can take steps to enhance environmental enrichment. Examples of environmental enrichment include items that can be manipulated and safely chewed on by the pig, items that can be destroyed, and ones that can eventually be consumed.
Producers should also consider moving comprised pigs to other spaces within the facility, like recovery pens. Gentle handling is critical for the heavy finisher pigs – for both the welfare of the pig and the safety of the workers.
Losing pen space is a significant stressor for pork producers, too, and it can take its toll on the producer. Several resources are available that address farmer health. Local County Extension offices are one source. The Farm Progress companies offer this resource.