Flooring in free-range farrowing pens? Heavy duty!

15 October 2018Time: 3 minutes

Do you remember Anouk van Spronsen, the product manager who started working for us about 18 months ago? One of her first projects was to carefully examine our floor slats: the Pro Grip. Since 2014, these high and low-profile slats have ensured that sows have better floor grip in the farrowing pen. After much measuring, fitting and investigating, Anouk finished the job: meet the Heavy Duty, the 2.0 version of the existing Pro Grip floor.

Why does the Heavy Duty live up to its name?

Initially, the floor slats were designed to give sows better grip. Since the emergence of the free farrowing sow two years ago, they are also used in the Pro Dromi® pens. It was time to add the finishing touches and fine-tune the slats. ‘This is very precise work. Each time you adjust something it has consequences for other aspects. Everything has to fit together seamlessly, down to the millimetre,’ says Anouk enthusiastically.

Sure-footed on the new floor

It is important for free farrowing sows that they can walk stably over the floor. If the floor bounces, the sow becomes uncertain. Heavy Duty lives up to its name and scarcely yields under pressure, which ensures extra grip. The sow will then walk sure-footedly over these new slats. This is a small adjustment but of enormous importance, because the more confident the sow is, the easier she will stand up or lie down, and remain lying down comfortably. In the long term, piglet mortality will decline and litter yield will increase!

Pig farmers’ feedback indispensable

A development such as this takes a lot of time. Anouk first spoke to the pig farmers themselves. After all, they are the experts. Their feedback is indispensable. She also went into the pens herself to see how the sow stands on the floor. The design then had to be worked out on the drawing board. During a 3D simulation in which pressure on the grid was increased, it could clearly be seen where the slats had to bear the most pressure. The design is so strong that even during pressure tests with a point load of 850 kg material discolouration could not be seen: heavy duty!

Better hygiene and more comfortable lying position

Adjustments were then made to the slat, mainly to the underside. Extra waffle-shaped bridges were applied. The teeth on the sides of the slat were also strengthened. Furthermore, the drop-shaped edges on the underside were smoothed away to improve hygiene; dirt can no longer accumulate. As a result, the pen remains cleaner and there are fewer infections. The 5 mm protruding edge is also a thing of the past; it has now been recessed so that the toothing fits seamlessly to each other and to all other Vereijken slats. This, in turn, also has positive effects: the risk of skin lesions to the shoulders is far less.

Keep sending us your input!

If you ask Anouk what she liked most about the project, it was certainly the end result. ‘It’s great to look in the pens and see the effect it has on the animals. And, of course, I am interested to hear what the pig farmers think about the adjustments. I would like to know whether it will also work in the long term.’ Hence this call to all pig farmers: keep sending us your input!

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