Ready for Pro Dromi® Classic!
In the coming weeks we will follow the Belgian Bogaert family and the developments in the construction of their brand-new farrowing house in Ledegem in a series of blogs. Last year, they tested four Pro Dromi® Classic pens, and now they are building a house with 104 of these pens. We would like to follow this special project with you.
Meet the family in this first blog: you are probably wondering why they chose this farrowing system. Read more about the challenges and specifics that the family encounters on their path. And don’t forget to have a look at the pictures of this special project on the website!
f.l.t.r. Quirijn Dees (Vereijken Hooijer), Nancy Bogaert, Rik Bogaert and Geert Carbon (distributor BvbA Vanpeteghem A&G)
Free from antibiotics: laureate for animal health
The Bogaert family has been active in the sector for some twenty years; their pig farm in the municipality of Ledegem is a household name in the region. Partly due to the medical background of his wife, who used to be a nurse, the pig farmer gradually discovered the similarities between human and animal medication. They made it their aim to reduce the use of antibiotics as much as possible, going so far as to work without antibiotics. In recent years, they have been increasingly successful; about 98% of their animals are reared from new-born to fattening pig without any medication. No wonder they were nominated by a jury of experts for the Belgian EU PiG laureate for animal health!
A trial of four farrowing pens
As their existing farrowing pens are in need of replacement, and attention from the animal welfare market is on the rise, their eye fell on the free-range farrowing pens. The family didn’t take any chances in making this choice. After discussions with Sterksel and the University of Wageningen, they started by setting up a testing area of four farrowing crates according to the Pro Dromi® Classic system. With a camera and the help of a student, results in the free-range farrowing crates were assessed.
Figure 1 The Pro Dromi® Classic test facility has been put to the test extensively with a camera and a student
Sustainable pig farming
Research in the test pens shows that sows are fitter and more social, take up more feed and produce more milk. As a result, the piglets are approximately 800 grams heavier at weaning compared with normal farrowing pens, giving them a head start of more than two kilos at the age of ten weeks. They also suffer less from growth deprivation. In addition, the ‘Nanny’, a separate pen for piglets, prevents crushed piglet mortality. All these characteristics contribute to sustainable pig farming and have encouraged the family in their decision to convert their new pig house with a whopping 104 Pro Dromi® Classic farrowing crates!
“By starting with gaining knowledge and experience with the pilot crates, we understood that it was difficult to secure or release sows,” says the pig farmer. “In the loose setting it can be difficult and dangerous to approach the sow. That is why we are now creating an additional corridor after every second farrowing crate, to facilitate checking the sow and operating the fence. In this way, we can secure the sow during farrowing and release her shortly after farrowing. In addition, the family were able to familiarise themselves with the new working method, to facilitate the switch to a complete barn.
The farrowing pen has two climate zones, so that the sow is kept cool and the piglets are kept warm. In this way, the sows lie in a constant low ambient temperature. In addition, the animals have more freedom of movement. Their feed intake and milk production are therefore better; sows are less susceptible to weight loss, which in turn has a positive effect on their longevity and the next gestation period. In addition, the piglets are born more quickly and are heavier at the time of weaning, increasing their chances of surviving the rearing period without using antibiotics. They also exhibit more natural behaviour, such as nesting behaviour and social interaction with other piglets. Thanks to this animal-friendly working method, the Bogaert family hopes to achieve better results.
Construction is already in full swing. Here you can clearly see the pits with the air ducts for earthen channel ventilation to ensure fresh air at the level of the sow’s nose.
PS: Would you like to know what the final stable will look like? For more information and pictures, please visit our website. The next blog about the Bogaert family is about climate-neutral building.