UK - The winner of the 2015 Oxford Farming Conference/RASE Practice with Science Award announced at this year’s conference, was Martin Barker with a welfare focused 360 degree sow farrowing pen.
Mr Barker has won the prize of £10,000 in the award sponsored by Map of Agriculture and the prize money will be used to develop the 360o system further.
Mr Barker told the conference that he invented the farrowing pen to address the high mortality rates that occurred with the welfare-friendly “free farrowing” approach.
His research, and resulting pen design, found that the size of pen was crucial to minimising piglet losses.
It also enables sows to exhibit their natural behaviour around farrowing and during lactation, allowing them to turn around – giving the name to the 360° Pen, benefitting both sow and piglets,
He said the design is simple and safe for farm staff to operate.
The bars are effectively sloping walls the sows use to lie down; and the design allows staff a better view of the animals and closer interaction with the sows.
“The benefits of the system are an increased pig weaning weight, which results in a reduced number of days taken to reach slaughter,” he explained.
“In addition, sows eat 10 per cent more feed in the pen, which means a good body condition when they return to the boar. This leads to an improved service return rate and an increased subsequent litter number.”
Mr Barker says that the throughput of each farrowing pen averages 120 pigs per year and that the extra production from the system ensures payback of the pen investment in 18 months.