EU PiG Ambassadors 2018


Meat quality



Ambassador: Kris Gios, Belgium

Theme: Health

Challenge: Reducing zinc oxide

Different feeds as zinc oxide alternatives

This farrow-to-finish unit is trialling three different types of feed, as alternatives to the previous feed which contained zinc oxide. They are: 1. Feed containing herbs, including oregano 2. Feed with inert fibres added 3. Normal feed. Results to date are positive, e.g. the feed conversion ratio of pigs between 8 and 23kg has improved from 1.58 to 1.40 on the inert fibre feed, while the growth rate has gone up 20g/day to 318 g/day.

Piglets from each of the three trial groups are weighed each day and amount of feed is measured. The farm has been antibiotic free since 2012 and has remained so since trying the new diets. The farmer wants to complete five rounds of the trial before deciding which feed type to use in future.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Belgium): Laurens Vandelannoote

Ambassador: Tom Mertens, Belgium

Theme: Health

Challenge: Vaccination strategies

Cross-company approach to PRRS

A group of 13 pig farms in the same region have reduced PRRS problems by 30% in a three-year period by working together and learning from each other to help tackle the problem.  They share information and have worked out a common plan which includes using a joint vaccination strategy, drawing up biosecurity plans for the individual farms and sharing information about health problems.

They’ve learned that solving health problems on pig farms, both in general and with PRRS specifically, requires a total approach. There aren’t any higher costs. They just try to align all the factors relating to PRRS.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Belgium): Laurens Vandelannoote

Ambassador: Rick Bosgoed, Netherlands

Theme: Meat quality

Challenge: Homogeneous groups of pigs for slaughter

Easy weighing of pigs for slaughter

Farmer Rick Bosgoed is saving 20 percent on the costs of starter pig feed alone by using smart technology to adjust the feed type and quantity to the weight of each pig in his new finisher building. This building houses 3000 pigs, in groups of 375 which are managed with the Nedap Pig Sorting system, making the management of finisher pigs in large groups more efficient and more accurate.

The system’s combined feed and sorting station weighs and identifies each individual pig and automatically leads it to the right feed type or to the separation area. This allows Rick to feed his pigs optimally and deliver them to the slaughterhouse at exactly the right weight.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Netherlands): Jos Peerlings

Ambassador: Bart Mouton and Filip Van Laere, Belgium

Theme: Meat quality

Challenge: Tastier pork

Olive oil as fat source for pigs

Duroc d'Olives meat is from a light brown-red cross-bred pig that ensures delicious, tender and juicy meat; it’s a combination of a white landrace sow and a Duroc boar. The producer has chosen olive oil as a source of fat in the pig feed, which further improves the meat’s taste and tenderness. This decision followed a thorough study on feed composition, working with specialists from the University of Ghent.  

Olive oil contains few saturated fats and many beneficial mono-unsaturated fatty acids. By providing the oil in pig feed, they achieve a similar fatty acid composition in the pork fat, which is good for the health of the customer.  The basis of the feed is a mix of pure grains (wheat, barley, maize) fibres and proteins. 

To access more information, contact RPIG (Belgium): Laurens Vandelannoote

Ambassador: David Goodier, United Kingdom

Theme: Precision production

Challenge: Increase gilt and sow performance  

Improving young sow retention

Farrow-to-finish producer David Goodier is measuring and managing gilt body condition more accurately. This is to help retain more young sows in the herd and improve sow lifetime productivity, while reducing the replacement rate of gilts and associated costs. Better understanding of changes in body condition was needed to avoid animals being over-fit at farrowing and under-conditioned at weaning, for example.

Weigh scales and a back fat tester are used to weigh gilts and measure their back fat at position 2 at service and on exit from the farrowing house at weaning. They are also measuring back fat as gilts enter the farrowing house and after 18 days of lactation. The feeding system has been recalibrated to help ensure gilts are fed the correct amount at the right stage and monitoring is ongoing.

To access more information, contact RPIG (United Kingdom): Ben Williams

Ambassador: Marion Verhoeven, De Hoeve BV, Netherlands

Theme: Precision production

Challenge: Reduce emissions

Daily manure removal to reduce emissions

De Hoeve Innovatie, a rearing and finishing business, has improved pig health and growth rates using a daily manure removal system. There are lower feed and veterinarian costs, with the potential to remove antibiotic use. It can also deliver up to 40m3 of biogas per cubic metre by removing fresh manure every day, compared to 10 m3 of biogas from 1 m3 of old manure.  Less ammonia is produced, resulting in a healthier climate within the shed which delivers these advantages for animals, humans and the environment.

Emission reduction, for which there are strict standards in the Netherlands, is tackled at the source by collecting the manure in pits or gutters and there is no need for air scrubbers with high energy costs. The system can be installed in both existing and new-build pig accommodation.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Netherlands): Jos Peerlings

Ambassador: Granja Rosa, Spain

Theme: Welfare

Challenge: Enrichment materials

Novelty in enrichment material

Feed conversion ratio has improved and pigs have become easier to handle, since this finisher unit owner began changing the type of environmental enrichment in each pen every day to promote the sense of novelty for the pigs. Novel enrichment is key management factor for this unit which rears pigs with tails intact.

The system involves a rotatory system of chains attached to the roof which moves hanging enrichment material from one pen to another. Enrichment materials include pieces of wood, balls, straw containers, plastic rings and hemp ropes.  After a year using this system, the owner also introduced an extra pen called a ‘playroom’, with a combination of different materials in the same room, to which the pigs are moved once a week and another area with deep straw to root in.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Spain): Emma Fàbrega

Ambassador: Doris Verhovsek, Austria

Theme: Welfare 

Challenge: Free farrowing management

Birth management in loose farrowing systems

Piglet losses during lactation have been reduced from 25% to 15% on this breeding unit, which operates a loose farrowing system. The change in management strategy included: changing sow genetics, optimising feeding, and close observation and intensive care of piglets, for example, on day one, putting piglets in the creep area while feeding sows and, on days two and three, watching sows and taking care of piglets during feeding.

The initial investment costs of the change in genetics and the increased workload in the first few days after birth have been outweighed by the financial gain from the increased number of weaned piglets.

To access more information, contact RPIG (Austria): Andrea Ladinig

The eight winners of the 2018 Grand Prix have been announced, with each of these innovative producers being awarded the title of EU PiG Ambassador.

Their winning best practices address eight key challenges, which were identified by the industry.

Further details, including virtual tours, for each of these best practices will be available within the next few months.