BPEX blog

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Modified dry sow arcs aim for targeted feeding

I’ve been working with an outdoor producer to set up a new trial to target delivery of feed into modified dry sow arcs, with the help of a BPEX Innovation Fund grant.

The producer started thinking about how he could feed his pigs effectively by reducing wastage, without incurring too much cost. Because the land can be quite wet at times it was having an impact on sow condition and was also leading to increased aggression. Extra food was having to be given to compensate for what was being lost in the wet ground.

So he has developed a concept where he can simply pull up to his dry sow arc and activate a quick release lever and deliver food into each hut.

On my first look at a group of sows being fed in the new huts, what struck me was just how calm the sows were. A little food is blown in to start with, then the rest is delivered between the two huts. The sows seem to find a natural order. There has also been a significant reduction in bird activity in the dry sow paddocks.
  • The following data will be collected from both the trial feed delivery system and current dry sow feeding system:
  • Group size (20-22/pen)
  • Feed usage per sow
  • Straw usage
  • Bird prevalence in respective paddocks
  • Staff time in feeding and bedding up
  • Sow aggression as measured by incidents of vulva biting         
  • Sow physical performance data
If you’d like to find out more or have any comments, please get in touch. We’ll provide more updates as we gather in the data

Monday, 21 July 2014

Farrowing tent aims to reduce piglet mortality


Our BPEX outdoor farrowing tent field trial is yielding positive results so far, including up to 50% savings in straw usage, compared with traditional arcs, as well as easier access for staff.

The overall aim is to increase the production potential of outdoor farrowing by providing more control at farrowing time. This should lead to lower pre-weaning mortality and provide a better environment for the staff to work in at this crucial stage of the production cycle.

The two producers trialing the farrowing tent are weighing the piglets coming out of both the tent and the arcs to see what, if any, difference there is between weaning weights. Next steps also include further modification of the internal sloping wall which helps the sow to lie down while giving piglets an escape route from potential crushing.

If the development of this practical solution proves successful, it will be highly valuable to the outdoor industry as average figures for pigs weaned per sow per year in outdoor systems continue with little improvement according to Agrosoft’s 12-month rolling data.

Click here to see our photo story showing the design and summarising the project so far.