Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Prepare for new rules on sow housing

Gerard McCutcheon Teagasc, Oak Park

JANUARY 1 2013 is the key date with regards to loose housing of dry sows on pig units. From this date all pregnant sows and gilts must be housed in loose groups from four weeks after service until one week before farrowing. This is now a legal requirement for all new dry sow housing. In effect this means that at least 70pc of dry sows will be loose housed from 2013.

In designing a loose sow house you must consider the group size, the feeding system and the overall management of groups to allow movements into and out of the group and/or house. The floor space requirement varies depending on group size.

The table (below) shows the floor area (unobstructed) required for dry sows and served gilts in different group sizes.

A grant of 40pc of the cost up to a maximum investment of €300,000/herd owner has been made available from the Department of Agriculture under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS).

To qualify for grant aid, the minimum amount of investment is €10,000 per holding.

In order to qualify, you must be approved before any building of loose sow accommodation occurs. You must demonstrate that planning permission or a declaration of exemption has been obtained for the building. The Department will only grant approval for your existing number of sows. Grant aid will not be paid for second-hand materials or equipment.

Grants will also be paid on the cost of converting existing pig buildings to loose sow housing as laid down in the specifications.

Producers must decide what they need to do in order to avail of a grant. Planning permission may be the slowest part of the process, so it makes sense to start the process of obtaining planning permission as soon as possible.

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Get drawings of the proposed new houses and talk to builders about the costs that may be involved to enable you to plan ahead. The clock is ticking.

If you are interested in availing of this scheme you should obtain a copy of the specifications from your adviser or your local district veterinary office. It is important to ensure that your proposals comply with all of the requirements of the scheme.

You may also download the specifications from the Department website,

One requirement is that the applicant or a relevant person has participated in a Teagasc pig welfare workshop. Teagasc is running a workshop at its Clonmel office tomorrow. If you are interested in attending, please contact your local Teagasc pig development officer as places are limited.

Irish Independent