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Photo & video 4365 views 8 commentslast update:Jun 21, 2011

SMEENK FARM: The Netherlands

Within less than two years, all breeding farms in the European Union have to keep their gestating sows in group housing as from a month after insemination. Some producers, however, are experimenting further with the theme. Why keep them in crates for that first month? Smeenk Farms in Haarle, the Netherlands, tried to keep them in crates for only a couple of days – and with success, Vincent ter Beek, editor Pig Progress, found out.

Read more on keeping sows in groups straight after insemination in Pig Progress 27.03 - coming out soon!

Photo

  • Smeenk Farm in Haarle, Overijssel, the Netherlands, expanded greatly in 2008, from 250 to 1,000 sows. Ever since, the breeding farm has also been a test farm for De Heus Feeds.

    Smeenk Farm in Haarle, Overijssel, the Netherlands, expanded greatly in 2008, from 250 to 1,000 sows. Ever since, the breeding farm has also been a test farm for De Heus Feeds.

  • Prior to this, owner Hennie Smeenk, 50, and his wife Yvonne had been considering to move to Canada after Foot-and-Mouth struck the whole of the Netherlands, including their farm. Eventually, personal reasons made the couple decide to stay and expand.

    Prior to this, owner Hennie Smeenk, 50, and his wife Yvonne had been considering to move to Canada after Foot-and-Mouth struck the whole of the Netherlands, including their farm. Eventually, personal reasons made the couple decide to stay and expand.

  • The new facility is characterised by high biosecurity. Gestating sows, farrowing crates and weaners, each part has a different colour – and hence e.g. footwear needs constant changing.

    The new facility is characterised by high biosecurity. Gestating sows, farrowing crates and weaners, each part has a different colour – and hence e.g. footwear needs constant changing.

  • The colour ‘blue’ is for the breeding section.

    The colour ‘blue’ is for the breeding section.

  • Smeenk reaches impressive figures with 31.2 weaned piglets/sow/year...

    Smeenk reaches impressive figures with 31.2 weaned piglets/sow/year...

  • …with liveborn piglets/sow/year amounting to 35.8.

    …with liveborn piglets/sow/year amounting to 35.8.

  • Average litter size is 14.4.

    Average litter size is 14.4.

  • Pre-weaning mortality is 12.3%, with an aim to bring it down to 10%.

    Pre-weaning mortality is 12.3%, with an aim to bring it down to 10%.

  • Sows farrow 2.48 litters per year.

    Sows farrow 2.48 litters per year.

  • Ambition can be seen from the targets on the wall. Figures in red indicate where the farm’s challenges are, figures in blue are targets that are met. “When there is too much blue, we simple adjust the targets,” Smeenk explains.

    Ambition can be seen from the targets on the wall. Figures in red indicate where the farm’s challenges are, figures in blue are targets that are met. “When there is too much blue, we simple adjust the targets,” Smeenk explains.

  • When sows come in from group housing to the farrowing shed, they can be cleaned within five to ten minutes in this corridor. There is space for 12 sows at the time.

    When sows come in from group housing to the farrowing shed, they can be cleaned within five to ten minutes in this corridor. There is space for 12 sows at the time.

  • Smeenk uses Topigs 20 gilts with a Piétrain sire line. Gestating sows are not kept in crates, according to new EU regulations, but in groups of approximately 50 sows.

    Smeenk uses Topigs 20 gilts with a Piétrain sire line. Gestating sows are not kept in crates, according to new EU regulations, but in groups of approximately 50 sows.

  • One of the most striking features of the farm is the fact that sows go back into group housing within days after insemination, mostly two to three days. They will stay for two insemination rounds after which they are released back into group housing.

    One of the most striking features of the farm is the fact that sows go back into group housing within days after insemination, mostly two to three days. They will stay for two insemination rounds after which they are released back into group housing.

  • Results seem to prove the strategy is right. Recent research in the Netherlands also indicates that contrary to common belief it does not harm pig embryos when the sows may get involved in some initial fighting when released into groups again.

    Results seem to prove the strategy is right. Recent research in the Netherlands also indicates that contrary to common belief it does not harm pig embryos when the sows may get involved in some initial fighting when released into groups again.

  • Feeding in the group housing is carried out by use of the Nedap Velos feeding stations. Some sows choose to go in straightaway whereas others choose to wait outside the feeding stations.

    Feeding in the group housing is carried out by use of the Nedap Velos feeding stations. Some sows choose to go in straightaway whereas others choose to wait outside the feeding stations.

  • This department is the ‘learning pen’, where young gilts are being trained to get used to ESF stations. It’s what Smeenk calls ‘the most important pen of the farm’.

    This department is the ‘learning pen’, where young gilts are being trained to get used to ESF stations. It’s what Smeenk calls ‘the most important pen of the farm’.

  • Some gilts have to learn that boots may not be as nutritious.

    Some gilts have to learn that boots may not be as nutritious.

  • Smeenk does not need too many waiting areas as the sows are released from the insemination zone within three to five days after service.

    Smeenk does not need too many waiting areas as the sows are released from the insemination zone within three to five days after service.

  • Weaners stay on Smeenk farm until they are on average 23 kg.

    Weaners stay on Smeenk farm until they are on average 23 kg.

  • The new facility also complies with modern-day environmental legislation as it has modern air filtration equipment at the outside.

    The new facility also complies with modern-day environmental legislation as it has modern air filtration equipment at the outside.

8 comments

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    R.P.R. da Costa

    Very impressive - Congratulations

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    S Nagra

    Excellent performance.

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    Lautala Seppo

    If this is something best, that you can offer as a better environment for sows, it is no wonder that pig farming is in big problems. Solution must come from soft bedding with straw, sawdust or other natural materials. Manure systems with sucking method are cheap and easy but if production will get to better future system, it is no longer possible. Farmers should themselves aim, find and demand better production. Good conditions are mainly more expensive that means also regulations that no one can do old way. Worldwide production is very large and in this meaning hardly any real progress is in sight.

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    PorkOz

    Nice setup and very well run! Those figures for total pigs born are impressive; what age do you wean at?

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    hsmeenk

    we wean at three weeeks

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    sudeep chhetri

    Its very excilent setup you will get your goal one day Thanks a lots

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    liuhaifang

    Very good! From these photos I learnt a lot.

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    wren de souza

    ITS GOOD JOB............GOD BLESS.

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