Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


2014 VeriCare Live


Housing: At the heart of animal care

This section last updated: March 4, 2014

A critical part of sustainable animal agriculture

Courtesy Alberta Egg Producers

The welfare of livestock and poultry hinges on basic needs such as health, food water and shelter, so it's no surprise that advances in animal housing are a major focus of the farm animal care issue.

Traditional housing approaches for gestating sows and layer hens have been lightning rods of debate. But they are only one part of a much broader story that includes attractive new opportunities for innovation. A growing body of research is helping identify approaches toward 'win-wins' that result in both improved animal welfare and improved production.

Progress on cost challenge, research

One of the reasons housing lends itself to often intense and emotional debate is the large investment it represents for the industry and individual producers. This makes the issue of cost sharing is a key hurdle that industry and other stakeholders are working to overcome.

Lessons from the world are important as Canada refines its approaches. While most options for livestock and poultry housing has evolved slowly over time, advances in welfare research are among a broad range of science that is creating an age of revitalization and fresh thinking.

Canada has the advantage of several leading and world-respected researchers of its own to lean on as it charts the pathways forward. The target is one there is broad consensus on among the major stakeholders - an approach of continual improvement that is both beneficial for the animals and workable from a production perspective.

Building Canada's brand

Appropriate housing that promotes excellent health and welfare for different livestock and poultry species is increasingly recognized as not only an essential aspect of sustainable animal production, but a key element to Canada's brand with customers and consumers both at home and abroad.

The Latest – Thinking. Ideas. Developments.

Housing: Windows on an evolving world

This section last updated: March 3, 2014

Note: This section is regularly updated with new stories. Check back regularly for the most recent version of this VeriCare Live report.

Egg farmers lead hen housing innovations

Crossing the finish line on the Pig Code

Farm animal care takes spotlight at Banff Pork Seminar

Q&A: The science of sow housing

Groups or stalls: Prairie Swine Centre weighs in

Sow housing changes propel pork producers into uncharted territory

Research shows shifting from stalls to pen gestation can work

Pig Code: Litmus test for industry

Ground shift on welfare: Action on sow stalls

Pig Code at the crossroads

What people are saying

Perspectives on progress

This section last updated: March 4, 2014

"It's something we've discussed for several years and producers making new installations are going this direction. We realize it is the way of the future and it makes sense. But we also wanted to do it in a coordinated way with some time to adjust. It's about enhancing the welfare of the animal. It's also about making sure it works for the producers."
– Ben Waldner, chair of Egg Farmers of Alberta

"From a scientific perspective, it's important to keep in mind that stall size compared to animal size changes over time, and research is ongoing to assess the factors of stall size and time spent in stalls as it relates to comfort and welfare. However with the bar rising on what is considered adequate freedom of movement, clearly there will be rising pressure to reduce time in conventional stalls and adopt greater use of group systems."
– Dr. Jennifer Brown, Prairie Swine Centre

"Producers want to make sure that if we switch that we're going to something better. In our experience with electronic sow feeding, we do believe we have a system that meets that need. However, this is where I think that we need more comparative research to understand how that plays out against all these other systems to really give producers the confidence to move forward."
– Dr. Tom Parsons, University of Pennsylvania

"It critical we do what's right by the animals and we address what's expected of us from the general public. Also just as important is to have something that is workable and makes sense for our producers."
– Florian Possberg, Chair of the Pig Code Committee


Contact Meristem for more information on the initiative and partnering opportunities.