As 2021 draws to a close, Pig Progress looks back at the farms that willingly opened their (virtual) doors for an editioral feature.
Even though many had hoped that 2021 would be different than 2020, which saw a closure of international travelling due to Covid-19, most of the past year has been pretty much the same. We had to be creative to “visit” farms sometimes, so from time to time the internet offered me opportunities and even ideas to go on farms. We took a look inside the South Dakota State University research facility, as they happen to be promoting virtual visits anyway. By the end of the year, things opened up slightly, so I was pleased to be seeing and touching pigs in Germany and France again. I hope that 2022 has more of that in stock.
The following list by no means should be seen as a top-9. It is simply an overview of a series of interesting pig farm sites at various locations throughout the world, which all share one important characteristic: They have a unique story to tell.
In Finland, wild boar are not only roaming the forests, they are also being farmed as their meat is considered a delicacy. Although the country is free from African Swine Fever, the virus is relatively close by in Russia, so there is constant vigilance for the virus. How are wild boar farmed there? And how can they be protected properly? At Korpikarju Farm in Liperi municipality, owner Juho Reinikainen has 12 sows and in total 150 wild boar, correspondent Matti Turtainen found out.
Demystifying the pork industry – that is the goal of the virtual tours through the swine education and research facility of South Dakota State University (SDSU), in Brookings, SD, USA. The research farm is the only academic facility in the US to offer a live look behind the scenes to a wide range of audiences. Since Covid-19, demand for the visits has soared to this 3-building facility, with 150 sows and about 2,400 finisher places in total, explains Prof Bob Thaler.
Pig producer Roy Hannen, based in the south of the Netherlands, likes to think out of the box. He created additional space inside the pig house simply by increasing the pig flow, by enhancing hygiene levels using HyCare by MS Schippers and optimising targeted nutrition by Agrifirm. Working consistently is an absolute necessity on this farm of 1,000 sows, 4,000 weaner pigs and 8,000 finishers, he explained to senior reporter Kees van Dooren.
The system is reminiscent of pig production in the UK. This farm, however, is near L’Albi, Lleida province, northern Spain, where organic outdoor production is also taking off. When Eduard Cau Barrufet decided to add an outdoor division of 300 sows to his 1,200 sow conventional farm, he deviated from the British approach in 1 respect: he opted for rapid field rotation.
The cooperative Zonvarken (“Sun Pig”), located in the east of the Netherlands, aims to bring circular pig production one step closer. Animal welfare, climate and job satisfaction are the spearheads in this new concept, which aims to grow to 13 closed farms with 50 sows each. Senior reporter Anne-Marie van der Linde took a look at this facility in De Heurne, the Netherlands, and learnt all about the system.
Letting a group of foraging pigs loose onto marginal land is an excellent method of regenerating the soil back into production and is an environmentally friendly practice. That’s exactly the type of farming Angus McIntosh is trying to operate near Stellenbosch, Western Cape province, South Africa. Correspondent Chris McCullough learnt all about this farm, having all different kinds of crops and animals, including 200 pigs.
About a decade ago, Bart and Mascha Vennix bought a nice farm site with plenty of opportunities in Schlaubetal, Brandenburg state, eastern Germany. The farm layout was great, and the capital Berlin nearby provided an excellent marketplace for pork and permanent demand for pig manure, as the soil in that area can do with some help. Things looked rosy with their 4,800 finisher farm – then along came African Swine Fever in wild boar.
One learns from mistakes, they say. That is why it is essential to share lessons learnt. This is exactly the attitude of swine producer Jung-dae Lee, owner of Jirae Farm, a 300 sow farrow-to-finish farm in Sinsan-ri, Gyeonggi province, South Korea. He likes to share best practices with his peers in South Korea’s swine industry. With his encouraging advice and recommendations, he is leading the pig industry’s transformation and growth.
Individual precision feeding for sows has been affordable and doable for decades. For finisher pigs, something similar has always been possible too, theoretically; yet the costs and investments somehow never seemed to be outweighed by the benefits. Until 2021, that is. Finisher feeding is about to make the step too – as can be seen at Earl de Grand Clos in Brittany, France. The 2-site farrow-to-finish farm with about 2,000 finisher capacity has an interesting novelty by Asserva to show.
Would you like to see more farm visits? Also check out our farm visit recaps of 2020 (with e.g. a visit to a PIC nucleus in Denmark), of 2019 (with e.g. a long feature to Cherkizovo in Russia) of 2018, when we visited the multi-storey pig farms in China’s Guangxi province and of 2017 (with a visit to e.g. HoCoTec in Colombia).