Des Moines Register 05-17-07 Extensive literature rebuts ISU sow study

Des Moines Register
Extensive literature rebuts ISU sow study
The article regarding the sow housing study at Iowa State University failed to
mention a result far more important than the advantage in live-born pigs for the
hoop-gestated sows ("ISU Study Stirs Debate About Crates for Sows," May 11).
The stall-gestated sows weaned 0.1 more pigs than the hoop sows. The 11
percent supposed advantage [in production costs from using group housing] took
into account the former fact (which has no value), not the fact that only live
weaned pigs are marketable.
An extensive study of all the literature published on research of sow gestation
effects on sow welfare and performance, conducted by a task force on sow
housing of the American Veterinary Medical Association, showed no advantage
of group housing over stall housing, and the ISU study concurs.
Further, the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary have
taken the position that economic considerations should never have any bearing
on matters of animal welfare. This negates any perceived and/or imaginary
advantages one might read into the ISU study.
Every study that finds group housing to be preferable to stalled housing states
that the level of human guidance (stockmanship) necessary for those systems to
succeed must be superior to that in stalled systems. Unfortunately, no one has
identified a source of these superior caretakers. Wayne Pacelle and his minions
at the Humane Society certainly aren't willing to sully their hands for the wages
available in agriculture.
- D.P. Madsen, D.V.M.,
diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners,
swine health management,
Iowa Falls.