Photo: DAFC

Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Danish pig production takes part in international webinar on farrowing pens for loose-housed sows

SEGES Innovation shared knowledge and experience when Pig Progress held an international webinar on loose-housed nursing sows in December. Denmark is recognised for its research in the field, and in the light of future political requirements it is an area of particular interest to Danish pig production.

In Sweden, loose-housed nursing sows in farrowing pens have been a legal requirement for many years. Germany also requires German pig producers to have built pens for loose-housed nursing sows by 2036. Research into the area has also been carried out in Denmark and although it is not a legal requirement, some pig producers have already converted their farrowing pens. The EU is also expected to introduce a change to legislation by 2027, which will require sow producers to have loose-housing units.

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At the international webinar, Dr Vivi Aarestrup Moustsen, Chief Scientist at SEGES Innovation, set out the most important factors in terms of the management and design of farrowing pens.

"We can see that there is strong focus on loose-housed nursing sows in Europe. The webinar provided an opportunity to describe the housing unit of the future and how stockpersons should handle loose-housed sows. It is important that the cross-border implementation of farrowing pens for loose-housed sows is a sustainable concept which takes account of the climate, the environment and the producer’s bottom line.”

Danish pig producer and Chairman of the Danish Bacon and Meat Council Asger Krogsgaard also took part in the webinar.

Conversion to loose-housing units – the experience of a Danish pig producer
Asger Krogsgaard decided to build farrowing units for loose-housed nursing sows at his farm in Ringkøbing in 2020.

"We had some old pens left over from when we began producing pigs in 1991. My sons want to take over the farm when I retire and together, we decided to build a new unit with new flooring and new equipment.”

Know-how from Denmark and Sweden
Prior to embarking on the construction project, Asger Krogsgaard made use of the knowledge and experience of other producers who had already taken the initiative.
"We visited other pig producers in Denmark and Sweden and based on our findings, we decided to cater for the needs of the piglets by ensuring heated floors in the creep area and slatted floors made from cast-iron. The pens were so designed that the sow could be loose-housed four days after farrowing,” explains Asger Krogsgaard.

Knowledge-sharing on loose-housing is all-important in Danish pig production
Other producers aiming to build farrowing pens for loose-housed sows were also advised to seek advice from other producers and to make use of the research in the area as changes in both design and management are required. Although loose-housing is a new area in Danish pig production, experience shows that it is possible to have loose-housed sows without compromising on either the welfare of the sow or the piglet.

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