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swine welfare

Olga0077Olga0077 Junior Member
edited January 2010 in General Pig Health
Hello everyone,
I am a vet student and I'm interested to find out how many of you (farmers) have made changes at your farm, for your animal welfare, and have noticed an increasing level of health or/and a maximized production. Or at wich level is your animal welfare situated from the animal "Five Freedoms" point of view.
Freedom to express normal behaviour it's the most I'm interested in.
Thank you in advance for your answers, you can help me a lot for a study I'm making. Example-photos via e-mail are more than welcomed.

Comments

  • rhodierhodie Senior Member
    edited December 2009
    I have managed several different pig breeding and raising systems.
    My lowest mortality has been on outdoor units, the highest in confinement systems. The chief reason for this is, I believe, because sick and lame pigs are identified earlier when they are more mobile and are therefore treated early and are more inclined to recover.
    At present I am managing an outdoor/organic farrow to finish unit with an on farm abattoir.
  • nicksdigsnicksdigs Senior Member
    edited December 2009
    Hello OLGA 0077,
    I don't know if this will be of any help as we are a small farm with only 16 sows, only one pure bred and 2 boars. We raise all of our pigs on pasture which they rut terrible and we rotate them from and reseed. Most of our sows are over two years of age and farrow twice a year with litters ranging from 8 to 16 piglets. We do not use farrowing crates. At first we had farrowing pens in our barn they were 12' x 12'--about 4 meters x 4 meters--. We now use insulated farrowing huts--we have a sow farrowing today, so far ten piglets--with an outside tempature of 30 F--about 0 Celsius and only the sows body heat to keep hut above 55 F--12 C. THey have access to an outside yard thru a door with a hanging fabric to block the wind. Huts are 7' x 9'-- 2 meeters x 3 meeters with a height of 5'--1 1/2 meeters. Piglets usualy are outside by the end of the first week, although not for long in winter. WE start our piglets on solid food on week two by cutting bananas, apples or other fruit into the corm meal and grower in food dishes that are in a "piglet" area. THe mothers if we have access are given a couple gallons of cows milk each day to help her maintain her health. I know we should use a starter but the wife is in charge of feeding and says we do fine this way. At seven weeks they range from 35 to 40+ pounds--16-18 kilograms.
    We do most every thing natural--no hormones, a 100 cc's of penicillan last over two years, no iron shots for piglets, no AI yet but we will try this Feb. with our pure bred Berkshire. We did use PG 600 on three sows that we had held back from breeding to get on a better cycle for our market that did not come back into heat natural, it did work but the sows did'nt take until the second heat.
    Sorry gotta go wife on warpath. If this helps let me know and I'll post more.
    Mark
  • Olga0077Olga0077 Junior Member
    edited December 2009
    First of all, I have to apolagize for my english. All of you have experience, so your replies are very important and usefull for me and I have to thank you for your time writing back to me.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Thats never been the case with me Rhodie, its always been the other way round. A good stockman walks his pigs everyday regardless of the system. Indoor has always been 1/2 the mortality of outdoors. 4% indoors, and 8% outdoors(approx. figures).
  • siroinksalotsiroinksalot Junior Member
    edited December 2009
    Hi Olga, I run a 750 sow outdoor breeding farm, our sows are usually kept in groups of 12 whilst gestating in 50m x 50m paddocks then split into groups of 6 for farrowing in similar sized paddocks. We tend to farrow our gilts in individual paddocks 15m x 20m as they have a habit of sharing huts. The one big change we have done recently was from an all AI unit (although any returns were picked up by a catch boar) to natural service. Our average total born has gone up by a pig and a half and obviously we now wean more than 1 pig extra per sow than before.
    As for Stevie G's 8% mortality outdoors, eh d'you wanna job?
  • Olga0077Olga0077 Junior Member
    edited December 2009
    Thank you siroinksalot for the answer; I agree with Stevie G that a good stockman walks his pigs everyday, but I need arguments regarding the higher mortality in outdoor farms (from his point of view). Your example is exactly what I need.. you have change something, so you have good results.
    I would like to change oneday the mentality of our farmers (in Romania), and your experience helps me to understand better the animal's needs, not only from books...
  • siroinksalotsiroinksalot Junior Member
    edited December 2009
    The higher mortality in outdoor farms is due to many factors, the main one being the condition of the bedding pre-farrowing, it's a fine art getting it just right but even then the sow may dig up "the perfect bed". Other factors are hut condition, curtains and draught exclusion measures, which if not attended to brings the weather into the equation. There is also the natural problem of predators, foxes or badgers can either contribute to mortality by actually taking piglets or by winding up the sows to cause more overlays.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Build yourself a fox fence around your farrowing, then you might have less of a problem. And lay a sleepper at the gate entrance where you drive through with the tractor, otherwise the clever buggers will get through. Worst hut you can have is those "A" frames, as the piglets have no shelter from the cold wind so they lay next to their mother, and are more likely to get squashed. With the "A" frames you need flaps to block the cold wind, as an means to reducing mortality. Had these huts on a 600 sow unit, but had no flaps, so had to cut ply-wood doors that I found on farm, at farrowing, to block the wind. The direction your huts are facing is also important, as the coldest winds in the UK come from the North and East, so don't face them that way. South-east is normal. Get to know your winds!
    Laying beds is an integral part of mortality reduction, which can be done either by hand, or with a chopper. Main factor with straw in reducing mortality, is to make sure it is not left cut to long. And Wheat straw is far better than Barley straw.
    If you have good huts, chopped straw, vents, flaps, up to 7th parity sows, a LW/LR/Duroc cross, wallows, maybe shades, fenders, etc., then you only have one other option, and that's culling the sow and replacing it with a gilt. What is known as foreward planning! Do all this and you may get around 4% in summer and 12% in winter Thats providing you have the right staff, of course!
    As for a job, no thanks, been there, done it, an now got the tee shirt.
    I now have to deal with much harder things, such as sun most of the year round, so enjoy the UK! Happy Oinking!
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    The biggest problem with PG600, if your trying to get a sow to cycle, is yes, they will come on heat, but when they farrow the litters are low. Nicksdigs, better is, just mix your sows together, and stress them, which will act in the same way, and actually cost you Zero! Best is to size them if you can(difficult with so few sows), and to keep them seperate from the boar, which means no sight, smell or sound and expose them daily to him. This will have better results! And use your common, as in any situation, if they pick on a pig that you've mixed, the take it out! Don't leave it there so they beat the seven heavens out of it, as it will be fit for jack nothing! That applies in most situations.
  • Olga0077Olga0077 Junior Member
    edited December 2009
    Thanks blonde, it's a nice surprise to come back home and find a new reply!
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Really Blonde your not facing the same conditions as the UK. Your temperatures only go down too zero sometime, where as the UK can reach minus 15, and preditors are a similar problem. A dogs a good idea, but an electric fence around the farrowing works as well. The dogs probably cheaper and takes less time to set up, but would be frozen solid by morning in the UK unless housed properly(good dog hut.) But regardless of condition a low mortality can be achieved.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Well Blonde, it is of better use in the UK than in OZ then? How the hell do they cope in summer with the heat or does its coat protect it? Very few farms use a dog as a protector, as it has the potential of being a "disease risk". Do you take this dog off farm? If your taking it to town/the pub or else where then this dog would not be used. Normally in the UK a "fox fence" is used, but I dare say some people do use dogs as an option, all is possible, as with a game keeper, which is in more use in the UK, than a dog alone.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Too many nights alone I don't wonder! Its a good idea, but just a little bit too much of a tie for me.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited December 2009
    Stick with it girl. Its alittle bit easier than trying to put a fox fence up for sure, and a little less technical!
  • BlueButtBlueButt Senior Member
    edited January 2010
    blonde talks about a dog--I wonder how that would go in my situation. I shall have to look in to it. It would certainly cut down on the fencing, the cost of the wire and the labour to put it up.
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited January 2010
    I think you might need more tha one dog if you run 1500 sows outdoors though, and not just 100+(?), unless its lead is long(?)
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited January 2010
    And there's never a 0 percent mortality Blonde! There are many factors for this, especially with the extremes of weather, such as really cold(- temps), too much rain(floods), poor culling policy, wrong type of soil, poor stockmanship, badly maintained huts, etc., etc.,................
  • Stevie GStevie G Super Moderator
    edited January 2010
    So your telling me you never get any overlays or starving pigs. That I do not believe. Not possible! Are you breeding Bulls and not pigs?
    Great Southern are looking for a good manager/stockperson, so with abilities of 0 percent mortality, they could certainly do with you. After all 2000 sows outdoors would be a "stroll in the park Blonde". Of course stockmanship plays a big part, but other factors can effect situations ie a foot of water, a blizard, a poor replacement rate as the price of culls sows has gone down, so no one is prepared to pay top price for new replacement gilts, etc. Nothing is ever as black and white as you portrait, thats what I'am only trying to say.
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