Work has commenced on a new pig farm in Northern Ireland which is set to become one of the largest in the UK.
Diggers have moved on-site to start the construction of the pig farm in Newtownabbey, just outside Belfast, that will eventually house 15,000 animals. Enabling work commenced late January as lorry loads of hardcore arrived at the Rea Hill Road to construct a laneway into the site.
Once that is completed a hardcore area will be laid out for the yard before any buildings are started. The new farm will be home to 15,000 pigs from around a weaning weight of 7 kg upwards while the sows will remain on the existing home farm.
Plans were originally drawn up by farmer Derek Hall for the new farm to house 30,000 pigs but planning permission was granted for half that number in the end. He hopes the farm will be completed around September time if everything goes to plan.
Mr Hall told Pig Progress: “The site where the farm is being built extends to 30 acres (12 ha) but we are actually only building on around 20% of that. The remainder will be left as a green field site and a water attenuation pond.”
“The farm itself is being built at the back of the site with the pond visible from the road. 4 Sheds each measuring around 110 m x 38 m are being built there. “A third of the total pigs there will be small pigs, producing very little slurry.”
“Currently we have 900 sows and these will be kept at our existing farm. When the new farm is completed there is the potential to increase the sow herd to 1,500, but only if it is required.”
“We are building a 500 kW anaerobic digester which will take the odour emitting gases from the slurry thereby significantly reducing odour, and convert them into energy.”
“This energy base will be used to power the farm. The digester also produces heat which will be used in the pig houses in order to create a better environment for the animals.”
The planning permission was passed by councillors in November 2016, following months of talks. Residents had voiced huge concern over the project and said the unit would produce too much slurry and smell. Also local and international celebrities protested.