Ambassador: Theo Vernooij, Netherlands

Publication date: February 2020 | Theme: Precision production

Challenges: Reducing pig mortality

The number of piglets produced per sow has increased by 2%, from 15.5 to 15.8, through a system that focuses on a high standard of care throughout the breeding herd on Theo's farm. 

Theo invests in good, animal-orientated management processes on the farm including time assessing the viability of piglets from a welfare perspective. He also spends a lot of time focusing on the condition, housing and feeding of the sows as good nutrition during pregnancy is the basis of a successful litter.

A lot of time is spent taking care of the birth and the piglets, with an extra employee hired to take care of the piglets after birth. They have installed extra heat lamps for the piglets and also provide better feed. This is a little more expensive per kg but they don’t need to feed as much so it doesn’t add any cost.



  • Piglet mortality decreased and as a result, 2% more piglets were weaned per sow. This increased from 15.5 to 15.8
  • Variable production costs were reduced by 1.5% per piglet
  • The entire cost of piglet production was 0.4% lower per piglet
  • Public opinion is shifting towards higher welfare standards, this system increases piglet welfare


  • The extra employee costs €600 a week
  • Increased labour costs resulted in an increase in fixed cost of 2.8% per piglet
  • Additional bedding and nesting material costs €1 per sow per year
  • The cost of the feed remains the same

Innovation in practice

In order to reduce piglet mortality, a checklist was developed from extensive research of best practice across 84 farms. Farm staff and veterinarians completed a questionaire looking at the factors that led to a reduction in piglet mortality. The questionaires were then analysed and the most relevant factors that were linked to the loss of piglets were identified. 

Each day, the employees follow the checklist and all work is based on the standardised practice described in the protocols. For further information, please download the Checklist and Protocols (Cleaning and Disinfection / Health at Farrowing) that Theo uses on his farm.

More about this best practice

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