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CLASSENS FARM: The Netherlands

Technically it is possible, so why not just follow and monitor finisher pigs individually? Toon Classens, from Veulen, the Netherlands, was probably one of the first worldwide to install a management system in which every finisher is recognised, traced, monitored and managed individually. Pig Progress had a look as well.

Read more on this farm visit in Pig Progress 27.10.

Photo

  • Veulen is a small town in the pig-dense province of Limburg, in the country's south.

    Veulen is a small town in the pig-dense province of Limburg, in the country's south.

  • Owner Toon Classens, 57, owns a 4,600 place finisher farm there, spread out over two pig houses. The first was built in conventional style in 2004 – the second, however, was ready in October 2011 and has a place for 2,440 finishers.

    Owner Toon Classens, 57, owns a 4,600 place finisher farm there, spread out over two pig houses. The first was built in conventional style in 2004 – the second, however, was ready in October 2011 and has a place for 2,440 finishers.

  • Most remarkable in ten of the new pig house's pens are these finisher sorting systems, called Velos Sorting, manufactured by Nedap Agri, headquartered in Groenlo, the Netherlands.

    Most remarkable in ten of the new pig house's pens are these finisher sorting systems, called Velos Sorting, manufactured by Nedap Agri, headquartered in Groenlo, the Netherlands.

  • As is more common with finisher sorting systems, they can determine on the basis of weight what to do with this pig's next feeding session.

    As is more common with finisher sorting systems, they can determine on the basis of weight what to do with this pig's next feeding session.

  • Should it go to a low-nutrition feeding zone; to a high-nutrition feeding zone, or to a separate environment altogether.

    Should it go to a low-nutrition feeding zone; to a high-nutrition feeding zone, or to a separate environment altogether.

  • This device, however, makes it stand out from conventional management systems, as it can read ear transponders.

    This device, however, makes it stand out from conventional management systems, as it can read ear transponders.

  • These are attached after birth in each animal's ear - future versions will discern between pink ones for gilts and blue ones for boars. The farm does grow boars and no castrates as this practice will have to disappear from the European Union as from 2018.

    These are attached after birth in each animal's ear - future versions will discern between pink ones for gilts and blue ones for boars. The farm does grow boars and no castrates as this practice will have to disappear from the European Union as from 2018.

  • So is this a group of in total 250 identical finisher pigs? Not for the computer system behind it.

    So is this a group of in total 250 identical finisher pigs? Not for the computer system behind it.

  • As soon as an individual pig will enter the feeding sluice, its ear tag is read.

    As soon as an individual pig will enter the feeding sluice, its ear tag is read.

  • Any producer, behind his computer or checking his handheld, can see the individual data of this pig - its weight, gender, date of birth, growth curve, number of visits to the trough etc.

    Any producer, behind his computer or checking his handheld, can see the individual data of this pig - its weight, gender, date of birth, growth curve, number of visits to the trough etc.

  • The data can also be compared to other animals in the same pen - and deviations from the average scores can be found in an instant.

    The data can also be compared to other animals in the same pen - and deviations from the average scores can be found in an instant.

  • So where can the finisher pig end up? For instance in one of the two feeding zones, where it will be fed a diet that matches its needs.

    So where can the finisher pig end up? For instance in one of the two feeding zones, where it will be fed a diet that matches its needs.

  • Another option is a sorting zone - this one can be created in the aisle of the pig house. From here, the pigs can be taken to e.g. another feeding zone, or to the transport lorry for sex-based slaughter procedure.

    Another option is a sorting zone - this one can be created in the aisle of the pig house. From here, the pigs can be taken to e.g. another feeding zone, or to the transport lorry for sex-based slaughter procedure.

  • After the meal, the finisher pig can choose to take the one-way exit back into the rest of the pen.

    After the meal, the finisher pig can choose to take the one-way exit back into the rest of the pen.

  • Toon Classens chose for an automatic dry feeding system which allows him to serve three types of meals to his pigs - one for the younger finishers, a middle diet and a late-finishing diet. Depending on the population in the pen he can always offer two out of three.

    Toon Classens chose for an automatic dry feeding system which allows him to serve three types of meals to his pigs - one for the younger finishers, a middle diet and a late-finishing diet. Depending on the population in the pen he can always offer two out of three.

  • Classens likes to provide his pigs with some distraction material, like balls.

    Classens likes to provide his pigs with some distraction material, like balls.

  • Since Classens is the first in the world to work with the novel Velos Sorting system, there is a lot to be found out yet. One of the pens therefore is designed with compartments, which allows the finishers to find shelter in case they prefer to stay in a quiet place.

    Since Classens is the first in the world to work with the novel Velos Sorting system, there is a lot to be found out yet. One of the pens therefore is designed with compartments, which allows the finishers to find shelter in case they prefer to stay in a quiet place.

  • The system is only short in use, so ADG or FCR are not to be given. Boars are sent for slaughter at 84-103 kg deadweight and gilts at 120 kg deadweight.

    The system is only short in use, so ADG or FCR are not to be given. Boars are sent for slaughter at 84-103 kg deadweight and gilts at 120 kg deadweight.

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