Sows

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FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

It’s a commonly heard remark: The general public have no clue what goes on inside a pig farm. Indiana’s Fair Oaks Farms therefore initiated a completely new plan – to build a 2,800 sow breeding facility which also constitutes a great day out for the whole of the family. Pig Progress took a look at this piece of agritourism and was pleasantly surprised…

Photo

  • Cows? At a pig farm? Oh yes – the Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms, located between Chicago and Indianapolis, is only a recent project within the originally dairy-oriented farms. So upon arrival all appears to revolve around dairy.

    Cows? At a pig farm? Oh yes – the Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms, located between Chicago and Indianapolis, is only a recent project within the originally dairy-oriented farms. So upon arrival all appears to revolve around dairy.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    This changes soon when meeting Sarah Hoek, assistant manager at the Fair Oaks Farms Pig Adventure. She can explain anything relating to the pig facility. Ready to roll?

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    The bus is off to the farm facility...

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    It is about 2 miles down the road.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Upon arrival, all tourists of whom many families with children, are welcomed in a large room full with nice to know and need to know facts about pig production in general. History, all numbers & figures and even holograms are waiting for them.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Not only Fair Oaks Farms is involved in this Pig Adventure – so is Belstra Milling, owner of Legacy Farms, which takes care of the pig production side of the farm. President Malcolm DeKryger addresses the visitors in a video.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Then it is off to see the pigs. Even a ‘shower’ is added to teach the visitors the importance of biosecurity.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    There are three barns to be visited for the estimated 1,000 – 1,200 visitors that visit the farm every day. The farrowing barn is called ‘birthing’ for easy understanding purposes as many may not know the typical pig jargon.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Visitors walk so to say on top of the farm buildings and through windows they can look down to the activity below. A special ventilation system makes sure no air from humans will reach the pigs – hence the farm does not fear Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) occurrence. Odour isn’t much of an issue either.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    These are young gilts, which will be inseminated when they are about seven months old. Fair Oaks Farms’ Pig Adventure has two of these nurseries.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Growing rooms for somewhat older gilts. In total, the farm has four of these. The gilts are PIC 1070 – a crossbreed of Landrace, Large White and a bit Duroc.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    On the walls, there are constantly explanations as to day-to-day things in a pig’s life. The TLC refers to Tenderness, Love and Care.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Undoubtedly the most spectacular is the gestation zone for 2,400 sows, which offers great views. The sows have been inseminated with semen from PIC 394 boars, consisting of Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc genetics.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    There is a chance to get to know staff members a little bit – all of whom are introduced and all have a passion for pig production.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Electronic Sow Feeding – if that is not a nice thing to show to members of the public!

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    There in total are 30 ESF stations in this facility, divided over both static and dynamic groups.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    ESF equipment has been supplied by Austrian livestock equipment company Schauer.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Did anybody want to try out how it works – an ESF station?

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    An interactive display tells the visitors – on the basis of consumption time the computer tells visitors what ‘kind’ of sow they are, e.g. a sow in early or in late gestation.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Stalls are only being used for insemination – the animals go back into the groups after five to seven days.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Plenty of opportunities to get to know day-to-day practices on farm – here (young) visitors can do a pregnancy test on sows themselves.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Some playful piggy art on the walls: Magritte also used hogs in his paintings!

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Another prominent feature on the walls: the first litter – not so long ago.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Visitors looking down to the farrowing – pardon me – birthing rooms. In total there are ten rooms with each 48 farrowing pens. Piglets are weaned at 21 days. The farm reaches an average of 31 pigs/sow/year.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Visitors can see farm staff assisting with farrowing. With many visitors looking over your shoulder Fair Oaks Farms literally feels what it takes to work transparently – and lives up to it. The farm is spotless and virtually everything is being performed with visitors onlooking.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    A special window at the visitor’s level allow the public to ask questions to farm staff and can get to meet a newborn piglet from very close.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Favourite with children is the room for weaned piglets. The young animals play, run and never sit still. In this facility the just-weaned piglets are kept for maximum a week until they get transported to grow-finish farms in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. In total, 80,000 weaners are produced per year.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    A quick look the outside of the barns.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    Once the visit is concluded, the bus comes to pick up its visitors again.

  • FARM VISIT: Fair Oaks Farms, Indiana, USA

    As from next year, also a Pork Education Center will be ready, which will tell visitors exactly about what it takes to produce pork after the weaned piglets have left the farm. This is an artist’s impression of the building.

3 comments

  • Fernando Dobal

    Awesome initiative!

  • Ms. Cardoso

    The Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure and Legacy Pig Adventure are first-class! Both are a wonderful experience for young and old and an easy day trip for Chicago area school kids! Great new restaurant with meeting room/banquet facilities has just opened with a planned hotel in the works. I'm also looking forward to seeing the next 'adventure' which I believe is to be layers. Impressive way to educate the general public!

  • tonny nooyen

    As a Dutchman who has the roots in pigs
    During our trip from Indianapolis to madison dairy show last year we stopped at Fair Oak farms. We were impressed about the size of the farm but also about the explanation of the farm and the education in general about the cows the food and milk production.
    The bus tour is great because you see it life in production.
    The top of the visit is the wonder of birt of a calve in the arena.
    great great great!!!
    All over the world farmers struggeling with their immage but Fair Oaks is doing something against it.we are proud with this inatiatives

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