Importing a Sustainable Model of Feeder Pig Production from Sweden: A Cooperative Project
The Swedish model has been established on three farms. Another farmer purchased a new farm in 1995 to have room for the Swedish model but is waiting to make further investments in buildings. The Frantzens incorporated some of the practices they saw in Sweden, such as increasing the space per gestating sow in their straw-bedded gestation barn, with favorable results but are not planning to make major changes in their current operation. In addition to side and advisory visits to project farms, the project co-coordinator has visited approximately 12 prospective farms in Minnesota and Iowa and discussed with farmers how the Swedish model could be used on their farms.
The project hosted a 10-day visit by Swedish researchers, farm advisors, and farmers. Individuals presented the Swedish perspective on livestock agriculture, animal welfare, environment, and meat quality at numerous seminars and workshops geared to farmers. These included meetings and seminars in western Minnesota; Iowa State University (with Dennis Keeney, Leopold Center director, faculty in the Department of Animal Science, and a swine genetics station, as well as a field day at ISU’s Armstrong Research Farm and an all day Swine Systems Options conference attended by 230 people); St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives; a middle school biology class in Minnesota; a Minnesota church; and the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. They also visited the six farms in Minnesota and Iowa.
By Sept. 12, 1996, each of the project farms will have had at least one open house and field day to demonstrate how each farmer has incorporated the Swedish model. Jungclauses have held two open houses (80 and 50 farmers in attendance) and been on an “odor” tour conducted by Minnesota’s Land Stewardship Project to demonstrate the differences between outdoor air quality effects of deep-straw versus liquid manure systems. The Wilsons held one open-house/field day that was attended by about 120 farmers. Armstrong Research Farm will have been the site of two open houses, in February and September 1996. Halverson, Kent, Wilson, and Jungclaus have made presentations, at these open houses and other seminars and workshops.
Each participating farmer received numerous inquiries from the press, from farmers, and extension personnel. The project and the farmers have received significant press coverage. Halverson and Honeyman have drafted a fact sheet on the Swedish system that will be published and widely disseminated this fall by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. A video aimed at potential farmer-adopters and assembling footage from several Swedish farms is also in the works. Finally, Halverson and Jungclaus are cooperating with a project of Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Energy and Sustainable Agriculture division to develop producer-oriented educational materials about alternative swine production systems that exist in the state.