14 January 2000

EASTON LODGE

All about our pig housing

PIG performance at Easton Lodge is often reported in these columns, writes unit manager Jasper Renold.

Less often covered is the accom-modation in which our pigs are kept.

The unit was started on a greenfield site in 1968 and now occupies about 1ha (2.74 acres). We started with Solari farrowing and growing pens (which are marked in the illustration as 10, 11, 12 and 13).

The then dry sow stall houses (21), together with a set of serving pens, are now occupied by the present service house (20).

In 1970, we built the farrowing houses A and B (1) C and D (2). That was followed seven years later by E and F(3). Also we converted a weaner house into a farrowing house H(5).

By 1980, the pig unit was selling pork-weight finishing pigs utilising the single Solaris for growing pigs. The Solaris in rows 1 and 2 (10,11) were converted into double pens without outside runs.

The next investment phase, which was implemented from 1982 to 1986, saw the construction of the new straw-based service house (20), a flat-deck weaner house (6), a bacon house (7) and slurry storage (9).

The Straw-Flow finishing house (14) came on stream in 1996 to take pigs to over 70kg deadweight. Finally in 1998, all sows were loose housed to comply with the new welfare regulations and FABPigs. That was achieved with the aid of a new 80-sow straw yard (8) and conversion of the stall houses (21) to cubicle housing.

For health reasons the unit was de-stocked and repopulated in 1989 and it still remains free of the main pig diseases, apart from enzootic pneumonia and actinobaccillus pleuropnuemonia. All growing stock, apart from those in the flat-deck, are housed on solid floors with straw bedding used at the rate of about 15,000 bales a year.

Pigs take 130 days to go from weaning to slaughter. During that time 26 days are spent in the flat-deck, 35 in the single Solaris, 35 in the double Solaris and 34 days in the Straw-Flow.

Newly served sows in the service house are moved in groups of four to the two cubicle houses. After pregnancy testing they either remain there or move to the straw yard before coming into the farrowing houses. &#42

Foreman, David Cham (right), takes delivery of new pigs in December. The pigs are on their way to the isolation unit before being transferred into the main accommodation.