360 sow pen wins “Practice with Science” award

The welfare-focused 360 Sow Farrowing Pen, invented by Midlands pig producer, Martin Barker, has won the Oxford Farming Conference/RASE Practice with Science award.

Invented to address high mortality rates associated with the “free farrowing” approach, Mr Barker’s research, and resulting design, reflects his conclusion that pen size is crucial to minimising piglet losses.

“The benefits of the system are an increased pig weaning weight, which results in a reduced number of days taken to reach slaughter,” he said. “In addition, sows eat 10% 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 added that the throughput of each farrowing pen averages120 pigs a year and that the system’s extra production ensures investment payback within 18 months.

The Practice with Science award, sponsored by Map of Agriculture, was set up in 2010 to recognise applied scientific work that has resulted in valuable benefits to the agricultural industry, particularly in relation to on-farm practices.

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