Environmental health check for piggeries

A new MOT-like service for buildings to help pig farmers run their controlled-environment houses more efficiently is being introduced by Staffordshire-based ARM Buildings.

The company is offering an annual routine checking regime in response to requests from farmers who want to know that their piggeries – particularly finishing houses – are performing at optimum levels.

When a new building is commissioned, the controls are set up and checked by ARM. The farmer is shown how to operate the system, then left with written instructions. Now, a yearly service is being recommended.

ARM’s environment specialist, Tim Miller, will spend a day checking ventilation systems, settings and their controls, recalibrating where necessary and physically inspecting equipment.

“If equipment needs changing, I can explain what needs doing and then the farmer can arrange for his own electrician to carry out the work,” he said.

“Farmers have been saying that they don’t know how to check that a building is performing correctly. They can look at a building but not know if anything is wrong. Sometimes it’s only when vices appear that they realise the system needs looking at. But performance can suffer before this. For instance, over time cables controlling air inlets can stretch leading to incorrect ventilation.”

Mr Miller pointed out that tractors and cars need regular servicing – so why not piggeries? After, all a typical finishing house, fully stocked, could represent an investment of more than £250,000. And achieving an improvement in feed conversion of just 0.1 by improving the environment is worth about £1.25/pig, or more than £5,400 annually in a 1,000-place finishing house.

The charge for the service is a flat £300/day and covers all ARM houses on the farm, together with specialist individual advice.

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