OUTDOOR PIG production can be more efficient than indoor pigs, according to new data from the British Pig Executive’s 2005 yearbook.
Though it does not give the proportion of the UK herd now kept outdoors, the BPEX report includes data from breeding and rearing herds with comparisons between outdoor and indoor systems.
Indoor breeding herds are still slightly ahead on piglet production, with 21.4 reared per sow per year compared with 20.1 outdoors.
But results from rearing herds for weaned pigs in the 7–40kg category paint a different picture.
These show outdoor rearers achieving better feed conversion efficiency rates, higher daily weight gains and lower mortality.
Outdoor reared pigs are generally healthier than those reared indoors with lower medication and vet costs.
Weaner tents and kennels are coming into wider use for pig rearing on suitable light land farms.
Outdoor rearing also carries the additional benefits of eligibility under the Single Farm Payment system, subject to cross compliance rules.
Outdoor rearing and finishing sites will also be excluded from the upcoming Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control rules.
IPPC registration comes into effect at the end of 2006 and will apply to all large units with capacity for more than 2,000 pigs over 30kg.
Outdoor rearing and finishing systems also corner a price premium from buyers, providing better returns and longer term stability for producers.
With a number of indoor units requiring major reinvestment and capital expenditure, there are signs many will be replaced by more efficient outdoor units.