Summary and Implications
Farmers raising pigs for niche markets are usually prohibited from using farrowing crates and must provide bedding and greater space per sow than typical commodity production. Because current consumer expectations dictate that pigs be produced year-round, crate-free farrowing options for cold weather are necessary and many niche pork companies will not accept new producers into their program unless they agree to farrow pigs during winter months. Several crate-free farrowing systems for cold weather have been demonstrated in Iowa, however those alternatives generally require a permanent, well-insulated structure and/or tremendous amounts of energy to provide a suitable environment for the newborn pig. Beginning farmers often struggle to include livestock on their farms due to lack of investment capital and long-term leases or other forms of land permanency. A yurt is a circular (7.3 m diameter), insulated tent. It is a semi-permanent modular structure that can be modified to farrow small groups of pigs. Widespread adoption of commercially manufactured yurts for farrowing pigs in Iowa is unlikely, but the pig management strategies and techniques developed during the course of this project will inform the continued on-farm refinement of crate-free farrowing systems for cold weather.
Iowa State University
Lammers, Peter J.; Harmon, Jay D.; Rossiter, Lyle T.; and Honeyman, Mark S.
"Demonstrating Farrowing Alternatives for Small-Farms: Insulated Tents for Sows and Pigs, Year One,"
Animal Industry Report:
AS 660, ASL R2922.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ans_air/vol660/iss1/87