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Humane Society International launches "The business case for preimplantation group housing systems"

Financial institutions are incorporating animal welfare into their policies, practices and procedures. They recognize the risk and return implications of ignoring animal welfare, but they also want to understand the production implications of improving welfare.


Corporate buyers are becoming more aware of and interested in how their purchasing decisions impact the welfare of animals in their supply chains, and they are enacting new purchasing requirements. These often include a pledge to move away from gestation crates, narrow metal enclosures used to confine breeding females (sows) in pig production.

To meet this growing international demand, pork producers are moving to preimplantation group housing systems, which do not confine the sows for more than a few days for breeding. Both research and practical experience demonstrate that production results are comparable or better than temporary confinement systems that still rely on 28-days or more in crates, and they are successful in multiple counties across distant continents. These are sound production investments, which consider emerging best practices in animal welfare and are part of a strategy to achieve more sustainable production.


The "Business case for preimplantation group housing systems" has several sections described below.


Science and research


The "science and research" section includes production comparisons, such as a 2020 study carried out on a commercial farm in Santa Catarina, Brazil, compared 524 female breeding pigs housed in groups either directly after breeding (the preimplantation treatment) or following 32 days of pregnancy in individual stalls and then group housed.

Additional production comparison studies included are from Canada, Italy, the U.S. and Poland.


Practical experience


Capital and operating costs for sow housing vary greatly between regions, and depend on farm size, design and layout options and whether the project is a new building or a renovation. For an update to an existing barn, the ability to reuse equipment, the flooring, the manure handling system, among many other factors, will have large impacts, so generalizations regarding cost differences are difficult. However, when the layout is well planned, some preimplantation designs can house more sows in the same building footprint as a stall barn.


The business case provides three cost estimates for a new build facility from different equipment providers.


The "practical experience" section also includes several case studies provided by producers operating in Brazil and Spain.


Global policy


The "global policy" section discusses applicable laws and legislation supporting higher animal welfare standards, such as Proposition 12 in California and End the Cage Age in the European Union.


The section also highlights, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Interantional Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).


Conclusion


The goal of the business case is to illustrate that pre-implantation group housing is not only the right thing to do, but a financially sound thing to do.


Pre-implantation group housing aligns with the FARMS Initiative's Responsible Minimum Standards (RMS).


Access the report here.




Humane Society International (HSI) is looking to expand on this business case over time.




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