'We design better together'
For this Great Pork Originates Here story we travel to Denmark to meet our new partner Lars Brunse. A pioneer who is well known for being ahead of the game where it comes to develop better solutions for piglets, sows and farmers. From flooring, to penning- and feeding systems, Lars has been working with components for pig farms for 31 years. What is his vision for better solutions? And what can we learn from Denmark? In this story Lars shares his perspective as an expert, innovator, pig farmer, CEO and partner at Best Farm A/S.
Becoming a pig farmer
Lars' passion for working with pigs started in 1983, when Lars joined a feeding company. He enjoyed working with living animals so much that he followed a 4 years study to become a pig farmer. ‘It’s so important to know what pigs are like' says Lars. 'If you know how pigs are reacting, how they think and how they behave, you can develop new designs that work for both pigs and farmers.'
Designing for pig behavior
After this study, Lars continued working as a salesman, but never forgot the things he learned. 'Pigs are actually very social and clever creatures, they are like you and me. Like at home, they prefer to have a place where they eat, a place where they go to the toilet and a separate place where they sleep and relax. They are very keen on having these three separate areas during farrowing, weaning and finishing. This will influence your pen design.'
With a patent on his name for a liquid feeding system, Lars co-founded his own business ‘Best Farm A/S’ in 1990 to invent better solutions for farrowing and how to keep piglets safe. 'Design and technology can solve many things and help farmers to perform even better. I've visited many farms where it's often too hot for sows. But I understand the challenge that when a sow has piglets, piglets prefer warmth. 'Design' can help you solve this dilemma.'
Lars Brunse x Vereijken
Today Lars Brunse is CEO and partner at Best Farm A/S, a company that is teaming up with Vereijken. 'Together with Vereijken we are developing a Nanny for Denmark, which can create an enclosed microclimate for piglets, allowing you to reduce the overall room temperature for sows. It is one solid piece, so no warmth is leaking and piglets stay comfortable.'
Lars and Vereijken share very similar philosophies. 'What I like about Bart, the owner of Vereijken, is that he always sees opportunities and develops his own designs based on research. Vereijken works with Wageningen University, my company Best Farm a/s works with Seagus, a research institution. We both always gather information from researchers on how pigs behave and apply this in the barn where we work together with farmers. Based on their experience, we learn what designs work for farmers, piglets and sows.'
Together, Lars Brunse and Vereijken are focussing on developing a Nanny and flooring system for Denmark.
By working together Best Farm A/S and Vereijken exchange international experience. 'We see differences in design in every country' Lars explains. 'And that is actually very interesting, because the sows’ genetics don’t differ that much. So why are there so many designs? By working together internationally we can learn from each other. Why is the distance between the pipes this big? Why is the entrance located at this side? You can make a design decision on every part of the pen and I'm always interested in learning the story behind it.'
Learning from Denmark
By exchanging knowledge between Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada, Best Farm A/S and Vereijken are combining the best of all worlds. 'In Denmark, we have already been working on animal welfare for more than 20 years', says Lars. ‘Denmark is known for its high quality pig farm management. We get up to 22-24 lifeborns, so we are used to a lot of daily management to keep piglets alive and are very good at it,' Lars explains. 'But I believe we can even do better by learning from other countries. In the Netherlands there is more focus on equipment and technology. We are not used to lift floors in Denmark, but in the Netherlands the Vereijken flooring has already proven itself for more than 15 years. The lift floor can reduce the risks of piglets being crushed by 80% and helps to get even better results in traditional and free farrowing crates. So in this way, exchanging knowledge and learning from each other can work both ways.’
The future of pig farming
We end the conversation by asking Lars how he sees the future of pig farming. 'If I was going to invest tomorrow, I would look for better animal welfare in the entire farm. From gestation to mating and farrowing. The future of pig farming is definitely moving into free farrowing and I'm eager to bring new innovations to Denmark together with Vereijken. Because as I said before, we will design better, when we do it together'.
We’re present at the Nutrifair in Denmark, normally on January 19th and 20th but due to the Covid-restrictions postponed until May 17th and 18th 2022. Do you want to learn more about the Vereijken systems or which systems are already available in Denmark? Contact Lars Brunse firstname.lastname@example.org or a representative at Vereijken email@example.com.