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EUROTIER REPORT: Gearing Up for Group Housing

11 November 2008
ACMC Breeders

GERMANY - With stalls and tethers due to be banned in 2013, German pig farmers, along with others in mainland Europe, are now having to think about investing in replacement systems.

At EuroTier – the international livestock exhibition at Hannover (11th-14th November) – a British company is offering stock with a proven record of productive performance under group-housing systems.


ACMC has considerable experience of group-housing systems on its own farms - pictured here with production director, Malcolm Stead.

Matthew Curtis

“On welfare grounds, Britain unilaterally banned the use of stalls and tethers for pregnant sows in 1999, so UK farmers have had a decade’s experience of managing sows in stall-free systems. It was clear from the start that certain strains of stock were more suited to the system than others. Some farmers had huge problems,” commented Matthew Curtis, managing director.

ACMC developed stock which has a placid temperament and is therefore particularly suited to group-housing systems while the strategic use of Chinese genes has given it a huge boost in productivity. But this has not been at the expense of growth rate or carcase quality in the slaughter generation.

Figures from Britain, where pigs are taken to lighter weights and males remain uncastrated, are not directly comparable. But a 640-sow unit in Segovia, Spain where AC1 hybrid sows supplied by ACMC are group housed on straw and finishers are reared to similar weights to those in Germany, shows how the pigs perform under Continental conditions. The unit was built to 2013 EU welfare standards by the owners who also have a 7,300 sow operation in northern Spain.

Total pigs born per litter average 13.7, with 13 born alive and 11.1 reared. Pigs reared per sow a year stands at 26.1 with 25 sold per annum. In the feeding herd growth rate from birth to slaughter at 130 kg liveweight averages 714 g per day with a feed conversion of 2.7. Average carcase weight is 102.5 kg.

This compares with Germany’s national average* of 11.20 born alive per litter, with 21.79 weaned per sow a year and 20.31 sold per sow annually. Average weight at slaughter is 119 kg, with a feed conversion of 2.95, a killing-out percentage of 77.4 per cent and an average lean meat percentage of 56.5 per cent.

“This clearly shows that the superior performance achieved by our stock in UK systems can be replicated under continental conditions,” commented Matthew Curtis.

*Figures from Pig Cost of production in Selected Countries, published by MLC in December 2007.


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