World-leading trial: Freedom farrowing system at Waratah Farms.
In late 2011, Waratah Farms installed 30 new freedom farrowing pens. These pens are manufactured by Vissing Agro in Denmark. The freedom system allows the sow and piglets to have more space, providing them with a more comfortable environment. Sow behaviour in the freedom system is less restricted, and sows can move around freely.
In 2012, research began at Waratah involving Massey University. The aim of this research is to investigate the welfare, productivity and behaviour of sows and piglets in the new freedom system; and compare this to sows in existing farrowing crates on the same farm. This is a world-leading study involving over 300 sows and their litters in the first year. An important aspect of this study is that two different farrowing systems are in use on the same farm. As opposed to comparing two farms that use different systems, the project at Waratah allows a more accurate comparison; given that labour input, stock management, genotype, gestation housing and feeding are the same across both farrowing systems. The following video shows the new Combi-flex freedom farrowing system in use at Waratah Farms.
This trial is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries – Sustainable Farming Fund.