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Abstract: What if there were no Hog Confinements?
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Posted 2/10/2019 19:05 (#7311828 - in reply to #7311445)
Subject: RE: Abstract: What if there were no Hog Confinements?

SW Iowa
First, a little background. I raised hogs in Iowa for 47 years. First 4 were farrow to finish, next 25 were finishing feeder pigs that came from a farmer owned farrowing barn with gestation stalls, farrowing stalls, and a nursery to take the pigs to 45 pounds, and finished up farrow to finish raising pigs for Niman Ranch. Niman is a meat marketing firm that buys hogs not raised in confinement, that are fed no antibiotics.
1. Labor needs would be at a minimum 4 times greater than confinement.
2. No idea on grass and timber land requirements. Grass and timber is not realistic for year around production. The only system that would fit grass and timber in the Midwest is a gilt only farrowing once a year system. A dual system with winter farrowing a the farmstead worked well in many areas.
3. Totally a guess. Price would be higher, maybe 50% after the multi year transition.
4. Cultural shift would be huge. It would be a huge boost for small towns, both from the higher labor requirements but also from the revitalization of the support businesses. Our little town of 2500 people had, before integration took over, four elevators with feed mills, now there are none, we had 5 hog buying stations within 15 miles, now there are none. 3 hog supplement salesmen operating out of cars. two lumberyards, now one that is not very busy and three gas stations that also sole tires, now none. The money that circulated locally through the businesses and their employees had a huge impact on the local economy. There was a study done during the beginning of the integration era by a not impartial group that showed for each 1000 sows that moved off farms and into corporate control, 8 jobs were lost in the local community. This would be jobs directly related to hogs plus the multiplier effect of the business employees turning their wages in the local economy.I didn't believe it at first but now that the integration effects are obvious the study was probably reasonably close.
Societal. Somehow the eye of the stockman would have to be redeveloped. That being the caring for animals and being able to tell from the body language of the animal how well it is doing. An example. Five or six years ago I sold some cull sows the a buying station that buys all types of hogs. The trailer ahead of me had cull sows from a gestation stall sow barn. 75% of the sows had open, bleeding sores on their shoulders and hips from lying on the concrete. The part that made me about sick was the weak squeal, almost like a cry that the sows constantly made while I unloaded mine that had been in a hoop with over one foot of bedding. There is no way I would want to be involved with a system that is that cruel to animals.
5. Historical The niman system of raising hogs without stalls, and no slats and no antibiotics is a good workable system. Adapting it would take a huge building effort because most of the older hag buildings have been buried. We farrowed sows in individual huts inside a cattle shed and had reasonable numbers weaned. It can be done if the will is there. I'm afraid that will is gone forever.

Edited by Haybale 2/11/2019 10:23
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