I think there are some valid points brought up on each side of the argument. Here are some of the interesting comments from the thread (of course you should check out the whole thing):
- "Part of my decision to use pens was that the farrowing crates are so upsetting to people and I have so much business traffic through the farm, I'm over that now.... hate me!!!!! I'm not goin to watch pigs die to be green and PC...."
- "I think there needs to be an open discussion on why crates are inhumane but low weaning averages are acceptable... low weaning numbers = high piglet mortality.... 100% surival should be the goal....... 95% should be a reality."
- "Keeping hogs in a barn has much higher overhead costs than pasturing. You've got the barn cost, upkeep and maintenance, labor, etc. I'm willing to accept up to 20% mortality due to my lowered inputs."
- "These pens are the same pens that have been used in past generations, when litters were just smaller....In the US the number of weaned pigs has gone up by 3 in 10 years..... I just don't think, the modern genetics of sows can keep up their numbers in pens...."
- "Pig mortality is a trait that can be bred away from. If you have an inattentive sow that lays on pigs, cull her. Keep the sows that don't lose pigs, and keep their daughters. One mistake that I think the farming industry as a whole has made for years is being production driven instead of profit driven. Higher weaning numbers or higher finished pounds does not automatically equal higher profits. How much did your inputs have to go up in order to gain the higher production? If you can wean fewer pigs and finish fewer pounds with dramatically lower inputs, profits may very well be higher than with the higher production numbers."
As I just mentioned, I would love to hear your thoughts on this debate. There were some interesting points made on either side of the issue. I do have some strong opinions, but I just thought I would throw the information out there and see what everyone thinks.