Kansas is home to about 1500 pig farms. Of those, the more than 99% are family owned. About 98% of our farms use modern farming practices. About 2% raise pigs using outside pens and with varying combinations of both inside and outside living.
Kansas Pork Association and our members do not feel that there is one "best" way to raise pigs. Each housing and farming decision requires careful conisderation from the our farmers to decide what is best for thier family, thier pigs, thier employees and the environment.
Many Kansas farmers have raised pigs for generations and some farmers feel that raising pigs in modern barns helps them care for their pigs.
There are four types of modern barns used. Each barn serves a unique purpose, to provide the best care for the pig at a certain age. All modern pig barns have features similar to what you have in your house. There are temperature controls to help the barns stay at a specific temperature and to keep the pigs comfortable, similar to the thermostate in your house that turns on and off your heat and airconditioning. Also, all pigs have access to fresh feed and clean water in barns.
The farrowing or birthing barn is warm, quiet, softly lit and its purpose is to make sows (mother pigs) and newborn piglets comfortable, similar to a birthing floor at a human hospital. The care for both sows and baby piglets are of utmost importance at this time. For a virtual tour of a farrowing barn click here.
Piglets are weaned at about 10-15 pounds, or 21 days after birth. From the farrowing or birthing barn, piglets go to a nursery barn. Nursery barns are made to keep young pigs warm and healthy. Weaning piglets is a stressfull time for piglets so this barn is kept warm (about 80 degrees) and softly lit to ensure that baby pigs are comfortable and healthy. For a virtual tour of a nursery barn, click here.
Pigs are moved out of the nursery and to the finishing barn at about 40-60 pounds or 8-10 weeks of age. These barns have some climate control but are not entirely enclosed, like the farrowing and nursery barn. A picture of a finishing barn is at the top of this page. Note the open curtains or open "windows" on the sides of the barn. Pigs are marketed at about 270 pounds or 5-6 months of age. For a virtual tour of a Kansas finishing barn, click here.
After the piglets are weaned from the sows leave the farrowing (birthing) barn, they are moved to a gestation barn. In Kansas, this barn is similar to a finishing barn, with curtains that can be opened in good weather and a temperature control system. Sows can live in pens or in stalls. To see inside a sow barn with pens, click here. To see inside a sow barn with stalls, click here.
You might have noticed that many modern pig barns don't give tours. This helps keep pigs as healthy as possible, which means using fewer antibiotics and a healthier community for us all. Unlike cows, pigs and humans can share the flu. It is very importance for farmers to keep pigs healthy.
Still want to see inside a pig barn? Try visiting a modern barn that was designed to host tours, like this one.Read more Ask!