Data collection allows accurate housing cost analysis

Controlled-environment finishing houses don’t cost as much to run as most pig farmers think, according to ARM Buildings’ environmental specialist, Tim Miller.

“Some farmers have been wary of installing controlled-environment piggeries because of the perceived running costs but, depending on size, we’ve found on average it amounts to around just one penny per pig a day, or 70p per finisher between 40 kg and 110kg,” Mr Miller said.

The company is monitoring thousands of pig places as part of a long-term field trial to determine not just the cost of electricity, but also the costs and impact on pig performance of different ventilation systems and size and number of fans. ARM Buildings has been installing electricity meters in each house it supplies for a number of years, and since 2008 data loggers have been fitted as standard to all ARM pig buildings enabling farmers to link up with the Barn Report monitoring and information retrieval system.

Linked to Farmex’s Dicam control system, this is starting to provide detailed information, so that such factors as side or ridge ventilation, small and large pig houses can be compared objectively.

“We know from other records that pigs in controlled-environment accommodation reach slaughterweight at least five days earlier than those in straw yards or poorly ventilated buildings,” Mr Miller added. “Even without taking into account the improved feed conversion efficiency, the running costs are more than recouped.”

With Farmex and ARM’s new growth sensor technology also now coming on stream, it’s now possible to accurately relate the environmental information collected to pig performance.

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