Recently I discussed how hospital pens were frequently
overcrowded, and to compound the error are usually sited in a spare pen right
next to the healthy pigs. Almost universally the excuse is "But we haven't
enough spare room anywhere else!". Very often I find on touring the farm, that
with a little bit of thought and imagination - you have.
Recently I discussed how hospital
pens were frequently overcrowded
, and to
compound the error are usually sited in a spare pen right next to the healthy
pigs. Almost universally the excuse is "But we haven't enough spare room
anywhere else!". Very often I find on touring the farm, that with a little bit
of thought and imagination - you have.
Faced with what seems at first to be an impasse, I make a nuisance of myself
by saying "Come, let's have a look around and see what you might be able to do -
getting sick animals well away from the healthy part of the herd is so
I tour the whole farm, firstly looking for unused rooms and areas inside
buildings. It is surprising what another pair of eyes can suggest from many
tours I've done of this kind. My experience has been that about a third extra
`away-from-it-all` accommodation can be designed in-house. Usually it is not
space or disturbance which is the stumbling-block but drainage - it is important
to get this right. On most farms this still leaves two thirds of the hospital
quarters unassigned, so I've found.
Now to the outside. On every single farm examined in this
way there has been plenty of outside space available. The
stumbling-block in this case is not - or not usually - drainage but the mind-set
of the manager. The first objection is "We can't possibly afford to build on
that space!" "You don't have to", I reply, "A hospital area is not a permanent
building, but something which you can construct at leisure and take down
Straw bales with a tin roof cover on larch poles. Old, discarded and if needs
be lightly repaired, outdoor sow huts with runs - the huts do not have to
withstand the depredations of bulldozer-like sows , sickly pigs are not
aggressive or particularly mischievous.
One of the best solutions of a semi-permanent and successful nature is the
plastic tunnel, popular - called `pipehouses - in Japan and `ecoshelters`
elsewhere. Those the market gardeners use and while the height of these cheap
structures is generally too low for permanent occupation, they are ideal for
temporary accommodation if the in-contact lower walls are `armoured`. You do not
have to put them on concrete - in fact earth is adequate and better - providing
some bedding is used, more generous in winter than summer when sick pigs will
burrow into it to keep adequately warm.
The third objection is "But that is a lot of extra work" Yes, it is, but in
economic terms, overcrowded hospital pens situated in among healthy pigs will
cost you about - or even at least - 9% more income ( I've tried to measure it
when I can over the years and it is somewhere in that region). Work out what 9%
reduced income is in a year. It could pay for an extra man which many units need
anyway as `tail-chasing` due to overwork is a worldwide error these busy days.
Sure - three good objections! All I ask is that you look at spaces on your
farm in a new light and let your imagination guide you. Pig farmers are good at
this. Comments please!