Sustainable Straw Based Farrowing System Modified After the Swedish Model
Paul Sobocinki of Wabasso, MN obtained a Farmer & Rancher research grant from SARE in December of 2001. Paul’s farming operation includes 240 acres of crops and a swine farrow to finish operation. His crops consist of corn, beans, alfalfa, grass hay oats, wheat, CRP and pasture. His SARE project was to turn an existing pole barn into a deep bedded sow and piglet nursery. Paul wanted to produce a clean and friendly environment for both humans and animals while increasing the utilization of the straw from his small grain crops.
Paul’s project began by consulting individuals from the Animal Welfare Institute and faculty at the University of Morris. They looked at what was being done in the area and came up with ideas on how they could apply it to their farrowing system. Paul and his family wanted to create a layout that would fit the needs of the animals and meet the labor needs of the family. Paul explains, “The most significant barrier we needed to overcome in our farrowing operation was to make the work more pleasant and to fit family time schedules.”
The Sobocinki’s project proved to be successful as the sows and piglets appear to be very comfortable in the new environment and there has been no need to treat them with antibiotics. The building allows for easy access of a skid steer for cleaning that is done mainly on weekends to fit the needs of the family members.
The SARE grant not only allowed the Sobocinki’s to stay in hog production but it also expanded their operation. The success of this project allowed them to market pigs to Niman Ranch which gave them a higher price than the open market. Paul and his family have been sharing the success of their project by giving presentations and tours of their new facilities.