UK - Straw-based buildings are gaining increasing favour among pig producers, according to a Suffolk buildings and equipment company.
The construction division of Quality Equipment has seen a steady growth in demand for this type of house from all over the UK.
In the last year alone it has constructed 14,000 new pig places and kitted-out a further 10,000, providing enough capacity to produce over 50,000 pigs a year.
In addition, the company has carried out numerous conversions of cattle and poultry sheds to straw-based systems.
“Demand from supermarkets for pigs reared under outdoor and welfare-friendly systems, has driven this growth,” commented Aidan Hubbard, the company’s construction manager.
“Pigs reared under these conditions can fetch a premium.”
This has provided opportunities for arable farmers — who often value the solid manure produced by this system — as well as established pig farmers, he pointed out.
Typically, the steel-framed buildings supplied by QE measure 200 ft x 50 ft (60m x 15m) and hold 1,000 pigs each.
Straw-based systems are often seen as labour-intensive, but with push-through dung passages and automatic feeding, this doesn’t need to be the case. Many finishing houses have push-through dung passages. Straw also allows pigs to express some of their natural behavioural instincts. And this is seen as a sales benefit of British pork produced under this system.
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