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WEST END FARM: United Kingdom

About 40% of all UK pigs can be found in outdoor piggeries, which should not be confused with organic farming. Vincent ter Beek, editor Pig Progress, paid a visit to a commercial outdoor facility in Wiltshire, England.

Read more about this farm visit in one of the upcoming issues of Pig Progress.

Photo

  • Naughton rents a long stretch of land of 320 ha on which he grows several crops, like rape seed, wheat and barley. When idle, about 30 ha of the grounds are being used for pig farming; the mobile homes are being moved every two years. In the picture, at the bottom West End Farm's finishing facility is located.

    Naughton rents a long stretch of land of 320 ha on which he grows several crops, like rape seed, wheat and barley. When idle, about 30 ha of the grounds are being used for pig farming; the mobile homes are being moved every two years. In the picture, at the bottom West End Farm's finishing facility is located.

  • Sow management is similar to indoor piggeries; Naughton uses a four-week system. He keeps his dry sows in groups of 20, which all stay in mobile huts or tents - a collection he built up over the years by purchasing them from other outdoor facilities. In total, he has 26 dry sow huts. In this field there are nine, located around a central insemination tent (right at the top) - this is called a 'radial system'.

    Sow management is similar to indoor piggeries; Naughton uses a four-week system. He keeps his dry sows in groups of 20, which all stay in mobile huts or tents - a collection he built up over the years by purchasing them from other outdoor facilities. In total, he has 26 dry sow huts. In this field there are nine, located around a central insemination tent (right at the top) - this is called a 'radial system'.

  • The dry sows are Landrace x Duroc crossbreeds, and are usually inseminated with Hampshire semen, obtained through PIC. The dry sows are kept in stable groups; any fighting hardly occurring. Straw is provided as a convenient bedding.

    The dry sows are Landrace x Duroc crossbreeds, and are usually inseminated with Hampshire semen, obtained through PIC. The dry sows are kept in stable groups; any fighting hardly occurring. Straw is provided as a convenient bedding.

  • Each hut offers plenty of space for all sows. They love to go for a little wander in the fields, Naughton explains.

    Each hut offers plenty of space for all sows. They love to go for a little wander in the fields, Naughton explains.

  • A favourite destination for the sows is their pool of mud. Since pigs do not sweat, it is an ideal place to cool down. Digging all the pools however is a big job, Naughton says.

    A favourite destination for the sows is their pool of mud. Since pigs do not sweat, it is an ideal place to cool down. Digging all the pools however is a big job, Naughton says.

  • Outdoor farming has some other practical disadvantages, he acknowledges. This winter, with heavy frost, Naughton had to go into the fields at least three times a week to break the ice as the water in the sows' troughs continued to be frozen. Also in summer, water consumption is higher than in conventional pig production sites.

    Outdoor farming has some other practical disadvantages, he acknowledges. This winter, with heavy frost, Naughton had to go into the fields at least three times a week to break the ice as the water in the sows' troughs continued to be frozen. Also in summer, water consumption is higher than in conventional pig production sites.

  • Naughton feeds his outdoor sows large pelleted feeds, usually containing wheat, barley, soymeal and rapeseed. They are vaccinated for erisypelas, clostridium, PCV2 and Streptococcus Suis.

    Naughton feeds his outdoor sows large pelleted feeds, usually containing wheat, barley, soymeal and rapeseed. They are vaccinated for erisypelas, clostridium, PCV2 and Streptococcus Suis.

  • Moving across the street, Naughton keeps his lactating sows in little farrowing huts, in total 140. Each sow has 20 x 20 m at her disposal. The 'fencing' in front of the huts is taken away after three days as soon as the newborn piglets can walk around independently and not get lost.

    Moving across the street, Naughton keeps his lactating sows in little farrowing huts, in total 140. Each sow has 20 x 20 m at her disposal. The 'fencing' in front of the huts is taken away after three days as soon as the newborn piglets can walk around independently and not get lost.

  • As with the huts in the dry sow zone, there are different models. The sows and piglets are kept on beds of straw. The right amount of it will keep them warm without suffocation. Male piglets are kept as 'entires', as castration is forbidden in the UK. Weaning happens at four weeks.

    As with the huts in the dry sow zone, there are different models. The sows and piglets are kept on beds of straw. The right amount of it will keep them warm without suffocation. Male piglets are kept as 'entires', as castration is forbidden in the UK. Weaning happens at four weeks.

  • Each lactating sow responds differently to visitors, but in general this is the phase Naughton says to approach the sows with care as they can sometimes be grumpy or trying to protect their litters. This first-parity sow is enjoying the sunshine and allows her piglets to drink. In total, Naughton weans 22 piglets per sow per year and reaches an average daily gain with them of 780 g.

    Each lactating sow responds differently to visitors, but in general this is the phase Naughton says to approach the sows with care as they can sometimes be grumpy or trying to protect their litters. This first-parity sow is enjoying the sunshine and allows her piglets to drink. In total, Naughton weans 22 piglets per sow per year and reaches an average daily gain with them of 780 g.

  • Further down the road, Naughton keeps three series of hoops for each 50 weaner piglets, sorted on weight. He usually sorts the males and females at this age and keeps them in different groups as the males grow faster than females and reach intended slaughterweight approximately three weeks earlier.

    Further down the road, Naughton keeps three series of hoops for each 50 weaner piglets, sorted on weight. He usually sorts the males and females at this age and keeps them in different groups as the males grow faster than females and reach intended slaughterweight approximately three weeks earlier.

  • The finishing facility is half-open; the finishers are kept in groups of about 40. They are fed liquid, on the basis of co-products, whey, yoghurt, milk and brewer's yeast.

    The finishing facility is half-open; the finishers are kept in groups of about 40. They are fed liquid, on the basis of co-products, whey, yoghurt, milk and brewer's yeast.

  • All finishers are kept on straw and each pen offers hanging enrichment material. It depends on their final destination until what weight they are kept on-farm. Naughton sells 180 pigs per week, through three different channels. He sells about 70% of his pigs to the meat processor Tulip (Bristol), producing for e.g. Marks & Spencer retail stores; about 20% is sold to pork wholesalers and the last 10% is sold directly to local butchers.

    All finishers are kept on straw and each pen offers hanging enrichment material. It depends on their final destination until what weight they are kept on-farm. Naughton sells 180 pigs per week, through three different channels. He sells about 70% of his pigs to the meat processor Tulip (Bristol), producing for e.g. Marks & Spencer retail stores; about 20% is sold to pork wholesalers and the last 10% is sold directly to local butchers.

  • Part of the sows are temporarily also housed in the semi-indoor facilities. Recently Naughton downsized from 750 to 500 sows, meaning effectively that some finishing places could be taken up by sows that could not stay outdoors due to a very harsh winter. The device on the picture can be lowered to protect them from rain and wind.

    Part of the sows are temporarily also housed in the semi-indoor facilities. Recently Naughton downsized from 750 to 500 sows, meaning effectively that some finishing places could be taken up by sows that could not stay outdoors due to a very harsh winter. The device on the picture can be lowered to protect them from rain and wind.

  • Each sow group has two Hampshire boars for heat detection. The boars themselves only serve the young gilts, which are bred on-farm since 2007.

    Each sow group has two Hampshire boars for heat detection. The boars themselves only serve the young gilts, which are bred on-farm since 2007.

2 comments

  • no-profile-image

    Segun Olabode

    This is a great site, and it is quite an encouragement to start-ups like us for this has greatly changed our mindset towards pig production here in Nigeria. We will gratefully accept more info on this farm as we travel regularly to the United Kingdom. How can you be reached?

  • no-profile-image

    Deb

    Thankyou for allowing the photos it is a great learning tool.

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