Policy: Environment & Energy

Bigger pig pens create challenges for farmers

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Photo - In this March 3, 2014 photo sows at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Ind., lay in nesting boxes, left, inside a larger group pen, while another eats inside an electronic feeding stall, right. Animal rights activists have been pushing hog farmers to move pregnant pigs into group pens from individual gestation stalls often too narrow for the animals to turn around. (AP Photo/M.L.Johnson)
In this March 3, 2014 photo sows at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Ind., lay in nesting boxes, left, inside a larger group pen, while another eats inside an electronic feeding stall, right. Animal rights activists have been pushing hog farmers to move pregnant pigs into group pens from individual gestation stalls often too narrow for the animals to turn around. (AP Photo/M.L.Johnson)
News,Business,Agriculture,Energy and Environment,Animals

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) — The pork industry is reacting to consumer pressure by investing millions of dollars to give pregnant pigs room to move.

They're converting and building barns to put sows in group pens instead of individual stalls too narrow for the animals to turn around.

Animal rights activists have been pressuring farmers to stop using gestation stalls.

Farmers like Malcolm DeKryger are experimenting with group pens, but say the move isn't cheap or easy. Bigger sows can hog food and bully their smaller sisters.

DeKryger has installed electronic feeding systems on his farm in Fair Oaks, Ind., so each pig can be fed individually.

But the equipment adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to construction costs, and he says he's still trying to find ways to keep sows from hurting each other.

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