Pig farmer: fixation is not a part of the future

With the new system the sow will be less stressed giving birth, because she can she her piglets, and protect them against "nature’s danger". (Photo: Aleksandra Fedorova/ Maria Runøe Møller)


If fixation of lactating sows got illegal tomorrow, the Danish pig farmer Niels Aage Arve would be prepared. 

By Maria Runøe Møller

The work on Niels Aage Arve’s new pig stable is in progress. Workmen are everywhere, hammering and bonding the different pieces together. Niels Aage Arve is exited. Not only because the stable is highly modern with floor heating and a new developed feeding system. But also because the stable will be build without fixation, which will give the lactating sows and their piglets a lot more space.

“A stable like this one should stand many years ahead, and I do not believe that fixation of lactating sows is a part of the future pig farming,” he says.

The new stable gives the lactating sows the possibility of building nests for their piglets and providing them the type of care that different politicians and NGO’s like “The Danish Animal Protection” are calling for.

Expensive investment
But it is not without worries that Niels Aage Arve looks at his new stable. Even though he is increasing his population of sows with 500 new ones, it is not enough to cover the expenses.

”It will cost me over three millions extra to remove fixation of lactating sows. It is very expensive. Luckily, I could loan most of the money in the bank,” he says.

Another problem is that loose sows will increase the number of dead piglets. In nature pigs often lies on top of their piglets by accident. Fixation has been  preventing that in the past. And even though Niels Aage Arve’s new stable is constructed to protect the piglets, it will still be a huge problem.

”Dead among piglets will  be my new big challenge.  The system is definitely better for the sows, because they can behave normally  around the birth, but sadly it will entail more dead piglets,” Niels Aage Arve says.

With the new stable system more piglets will die getting squashed by their mothers, but less by a complicating birth. (Photo: Aleksandra Fedorova/ Maria Runøe Møller)

A temptation for the consumer
The expenses will be gained through the consumer. Niels Aage Arve believes that he will be one step ahead of his competitors by offering the consumer good animal welfare.

“We are only a handful of farmers, who are installing this very system. I do believe that the consumers are willing to pay an added cost for the meat,” he says.

The stable system is developed by the Pig Research Center. It is considered as the most successful one so far. Research on stable systems without fixation  is far from done, and there is no guarantee that this one is an efficient alternative.

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