A novel initiative in the Netherlands, called Vair Pig House, aims to combine animal welfare, housing and a better climate.
The project touched a Dutch government grant of a €500,000 in April last year, zooms in on natural behaviour of the pigs. The design of the pig house, both indoors and outdoors, should take care of the right conditions and comfort around sow, piglet and finisher.
In the project, which allows pigs to have more freedom, fresh air and daylight, straw-bedded flooring as well as an outdoor area can be found.
Climate inside as well as outside also receives a boost as the project incorporates a swine toilet – a concept which makes use of pigs’ quality to be neat. After all, sows teach their piglets where to find the trough, as well as where to drink, sleep and defecate.
Spokesperson Marijke Nooijen, pig producer in the Netherlands, said a swine toilet has lots of benefits. “As it is only a small surface where it all happens, we’d only have to extract the air in a relatively small area. This in turn is an energy-saving method as well.”
“In addition, this way we can easily apply separation of manure into liquid and solid.”
Other features in the concept are a lactation bed (more freedom), animal recognition (accurate amounts of feeding) and heat changing systems (a nice temperature for all pigs).
Even single individual elements within a Vair Pig House can be used in the modern pig industry. Pig producers thus can make steps in whichever area of welfare, health and environment.
The Vair Pig House is supported by Iver Plus, Nedap-Agri, several pork producers, the Souther Dutch Agri- and Horticultural Organisation (ZLTO) and the Wageningen University & Research Centre (WUR).
The project recently opened a website, www.vair.nl.
The website, all in Dutch, invites visitors to state their opinion on the initiative.