24 May 2002

Fatteners do very well on wood chips

LOOSE housing fattening pigs on wood chips can improve performance, save money and improve welfare, says Malcolm Pye of Food Animal Initiative (FAI), which is supported by Tesco and McDonalds.

"In initial trials at our Oxfordshire unit, pigs on wood chip bedding were in the top 10% for growth rate and finished quicker than a comparable group housed on straw," said Mr Pye.

While there are no results available yet, Mr Pye was confident that further trials will back up the initial trial.

Pigs housed this way root more and ingest wood chips, making the gut more active and improving intestinal health.

The system is based on the same principal as a straw yard, but the wood chips do not need topping up. "The dunging area should be cleaned out periodically, but unlike straw there is no need to bed the yard after the initial layer," said Mr Pye.

The FAI claims it saves labour and gives staff more time to attend to health and welfare. &#42