Hog-Tied Farms uses Nooyen farrowing pens with the Balance floor. John van Engelen started in 2013 with the purchase of four Balance floors. In his new barn, which he completed in 2019, he has equipped all farrowing pens with the Balance floor.
A Balance floor automatically creates a difference in height between the living area of piglets and the sow, as soon as the sow stands up. Only when the sow lies down the farrowing box returns to the same level as where the piglets live. In this way, the Balance floor prevents newborn piglets from crushing. The crushing mortality drops with 80 percent
0.5 piglet per throw extra
According to John, the difference between a farrowing pen with or without a Balance floor is 0.5 piglet per litter. On average, half a piglet more is weaned each round in a Balance farrowing pen than in a farrowing pen without this lift function. “With twelve rounds a year, you raise about six piglets more in a Balance farrowing pen than in a traditional farrowing pen.”
Another advantage of the Nooyen farrowing pens is that piglets suffer less from abrasions to the feet and knees. This is due to the soft coating on the steel frame of the slats. To show the evidence, John picks a piglet at random from the farrowing pen. “Look, you see that the knees are nice and clean and there are no abrasions. This will become a beautiful and healthy fattening pig.”
Talking to other farmers
There is a reason that it took several years between the first purchase of the Balance farrowing pens and the introduction of this novelty in the new barn. “We are always skeptical about new products. It’s not hard to lose money, it’s a little harder to get that money back.” John therefore has a tip for other pig farmers. “If you’re a little skeptical about a product, it’s a good idea to talk about it with other farmers. Farmers always tell you the truth. They are always hesitant to spend money, unless it is a good product.”
Thinking about next generation
Animal welfare and sustainability are important drivers for investing in John van Engelen’s Hog-Tied Farms. For John, the investments in Nooyen’s Balance floor are part of that thought: “I would like to pass this way of thinking on to the next generation.” The son and daughter of John and his wife will take over the business within a few years.
Significant growth Balance floor
Hog-Tied Farms is not the only company in Canada and the USA with Balance farrowing pens. This way of housing farrowing sows is growing significant. Worldwide, more than 100,000 Balance farrowing pens have been sold in the last fifteen years. With continuous improvements, pigfarmers can have a robust and highly advanced farrowing sow housing system.
Animal welfare under magnifying glass
In 2020, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture (USA) also commissioned twelve Super-Coated Balance Floor farrowing pens. In addition to the moving farrowing floor, sows can also be weighed in real time so that the weight of the sow can be monitored. Animal welfare is also under a microscope in Canada and the USA. Meeting todays growing demand for sustainable agriculture, and improved profitability, this will be a top priority for pig farmers worldwide. Pig farmers can reach this goal with the Balance floor of Nooyen.