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  • 18 Dec 2017, 11:55

From the United States to China and back again – that in short was the 2017 edition of Pig Progress’ farm tours. Where did we go again – and which were highlights? Editor Vincent ter Beek guides you through.

DBN Farm, China: Dazzling plans

The Chinese pig market is in constant motion, with companies having ambitious plans. Da Bei Nong (DBN) has been in the agribusiness for 20 years but until 2015, its focus was mainly on feed and health products. Ever since, things changed – the aim now is to produce 30 million finishers by 2030. One of the steps in this process was by strongly expanding its DBN Yutian Technology park, east of Beijing. It contains 2 separate farm complexes, a training centre as well as supporting facility. Make sure to view our video report as well!


Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Beerens Farm, Netherlands: Reusing energy

Reuse of energy is important, as it adds to a farm’s sustainability and cuts costs. It’s been a known possibility to re-use the heat coming from air scrubbers in use elsewhere on the farm, by use of heat exchange systems. Nevertheless – in the Netherlands heat exchangers can be sensitive to the cold when temperatures drop fairly low, especially when they are located behind air inlets. Stienen BE therefore developed a heat exchanger using a plastomere. At the Beerens Farm breeding facility, near Nederweert, we observed this novel system being in use.

Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Siljebjerggaard Farm, Denmark: Testing free farrowing crates

In Northern Europe, loose farrowing has been a big thing in the last couple of years. Systems providing more liberty for sows during lactation are actively promoted at various Nordic trade shows – but as always, the question remains: which system ensures sow welfare as well as piglet safety? In order to better answer that question, Siljebjerggaard Farm in Braedstrup, Denmark had a test unit added, where 10 different systems are being tested side-by-side. Correspondent Stuart Lumb had a look for himself.


Photo: Danish Pig Research Centre

Kreins Farm, Luxembourg: Farming in a tiny country

Pig farming doesn’t only happen in the major countries, but also in a small country like Luxembourg. In fact, there are some distinct advantages, noted correspondent René Stevens. In the absence of a major swine environment, the Kreins family had the opportunity to develop their 170 sow farrow-to-finish farm to their own liking and what’s more – there are no pig farms in the direct surroundings of their facility in Hupperdange, ensuring a good health status.


Photo: René Stevens

Green Acres Farm, USA: Observing cannulated pigs

In order to know the real ins and outs about how piglets digest their food, it is sometimes necessary to cannulate them. That way it’s possible to figure out what the digesta look like at the end of the small intestine. Novus-owned Green Acres research farm does exactly that – along with a whole series of other nutritional trials on pigs and other livestock species. In total, the research farm can house 288 nursing pigs, as well as 84 cows, 12 steer and 5,500 poultry.


Photo: Vincent ter Beek

HoCoTec, Colombia: An example for Latin America

Now Colombia is rapidly heading for a better future, pig farming is definitely becoming big. For consultant Edgar Villamizar this was the sign that it was time to not only tell producers how to do better, but also show it. Hence he built the HoCoTec facility, near Villavicencio in cooperation with his Dutch associate Luc Willekens. The modern 250 sow farrow-to-finish farm was opened in 2014, attracted attention from farmers from the whole of Latin America, and is currently in the process of being expanded.


Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Van Veldhuizen Farm, Netherlands: Aiming for spotless

A fascinating insight into what is possible when there is strong attention for hygiene on a pig farm, that is what we got when visiting Van Veldhuizen Farm, close to Ede, in the heart of the Netherlands. The finisher facilities had received an easy-to-clean coating, works with crystal clear water pipes, has a zero-tolerance policy to flies and is spotless all the time. Results: a substantially higher growth rate, lower mortality and no use of antibiotics or vaccination.


Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Gaec de Mirtanges, France: Pig production outside Brittany

Whoever thinks of ‘pigs’ and ‘France’, thinks of the region of Brittany. There are, however, pigs held outside the number 1 pig area – and for this visit, our correspondent Philippe Caldier took a look at Gaec de Mirtanges farmin Eastern France. The pig farming business is there often part of a larger farm, he writes, noting a good eye for details and high valorisation at the slaughterhouse.

Photo: Philippe Caldier

Cargill Global Innovation Center, Netherlands: Part of a global network

Cargill Animal Nutrition is active globally, but in order to be active on the global market, the company needs a good network of research farms for R&D purposes. One of the key facilities for swine nutrition is located in Velddriel, the Netherlands. In 2016, the farm added a very modern ‘Focus Unit’ for weaner pigs, which allows the scientists on-site to do fundamental research, with pens that are variable in size. It has optimal conditions for doing blood, faecal, urine and tissue collection as well as challenge trials.

Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Iowa Lakes, USA: Students taking care of pigs

Pigs at the Iowa Lakes Community College farm are enjoying the care of an entire range of young enthusiastic people: all are students at the college who chose to do a two-year course in swine production. The facility was expanded in 2013 and now has a capacity of 56 sows, a weaner house and a total of 360 finisher places. For the students, this way of teaching is ideal, explains Kelly Dodge, swine instructor, as the students much rather spend time inside the farm buildings than in the classroom.


Photo: Vincent ter Beek