There was a time when farmed pigs were kept indoors and in stalls. Times have changed, and so have methods, but a responsibility to humanely raise pigs is a priority. With the demand for pork rising, consumers are calling for pig producers who can demonstrate that they are responsible farmers who care for their animals, the environment and their customers. Consumers are calling on pig farmers to follow safe and sustainable practices.
Farrowing huts are the answer for both indoor, straw raised pig farms and free range pig farms. The huts are complementary to sustainable and humane method of pig farming. As the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program APIQ® states: “The huts allow the animals to seek shelter from environmental extremes. They also provide additional protection for the piglets when very young.”
Free Range Pig Farming
A free range piggery is a piggery where the herd is rotated on pastures or on cropland for all or most of their production life. For instance, sows will mate then farrow in paddocks, piglets get weaned and are then grown out in paddocks, or finished in shelters. The benefits include a more stable environment, fewer parasites, less disease problems, and increased productivity.
Free range pasture raised pigs can also save money. They have a higher rate of return due to less need for repairs and temperature fixing. This can save thousands on a pig farm over years, and those savings can be passed onto the consumer.
Outdoor Bred Pig Farming
Outdoor bred but raised indoors on straw pork production basically means that sows are kept outdoors for their entire life, as per free range standards. Piglets are born and then raised under these standards until weaning, when they move to deep litter housing for growing, or finishing.
Pig Farrowing Hut Types
There are several types of simple individual farrowing huts that are available to producers who farrow pigs on pasture. The hut design, construction, and cost all vary, but the primary consideration are the huts ability to moderate temperature extremes, keep pigs dry and draft free, and maybe most importantly, to minimize pig crushing by the sow.
Tin or Metal Pig Farrowing Hut
One of the most common pig farrowing huts in use today are the ones made from tin. They have been around for decades, are strong and relatively cheap. They do come with some downsides, first being their limited life span because of rusting issues. Along with rust issues come safety issues and the huts become harder to clean. This then leads to higher chance of disease and injury to sows and piglets and the farmer when working in and around the huts. These huts are also not easily relocated have to be replaced regularly when they rust and detoriate.
Insulated Sandwich Panels
Free range pig farming is not always an easy task in Australia, The Climate can often range far outside of what is healthy for them, and in a true “free range” environment sows face the challenge of finding a safe place to farrow. This is where another type of pig farrowing hut has come about using insulated sandwhich panels or coolroom panels. These provide excellent insulation however because the outsides of the panels are metal they share a lot of the same downsides a standalone tin huts; limited lifespan from rust issues along with the associated health and safety issues. There is also the added time it takes to manufacture these huts, often from cool room panel.
Poly Pig Farrowing Huts
Now available on the market is a new poly pig farrowing hut which has been designed along side pig farmers who are looking for cutting edge methods and products. These new Poly Farrowing Huts have a number of significant advantages listed below.
- They are safe - A poly farrowing hut provides a safe shelter for a sow in her time of need. The poly huts are small enough that she can feel protected on all sides. The poly farrowing huts are also double skinned giving a thermal break for insulation. They also come with provisions for tie-down pegs to keep the huts in place. In nature she would build a nest for her and her piglets, and according to aging-naturally.com she could stay there for up to 8 weeks. A farrowing hut makes a great artificial nest for her to nurse her young in a protected environment.
- They are portable - The ability to move a poly farrowing hut is one of its best features. The poly farrowing huts have a lifting bar and removable/fold-away poly fender. They are quick to assemble. After piglets are weaned these small structures are simple to clean out and quick and easy to rotate to a new location. Simply remove their hay ( or whatever bedding you are using), move the hut with the lifting handles and lifting bar, and place new bedding inside for the next sow. This way you can keep your free range environment lush and varied for these intelligent animals.
- They help prevent the spread of disease - Coerco Poly Farrowing huts are manufactured from food grade polymer which is brilliant for cleaning time and time again. Since pigs are unable to sweat they are mostly kept in large shelters where they can come and go freely to help regulate their temperature. If there are no farrowing huts available a sow will give birth inside this shelter because it is the best place available. Despite the fact that some cleanup is done by the mother in the hours after birth the substrate will still need to be replaced in order to ward off bacteria growth. In a farrowing hut a mother can isolate herself from the rest of the herd, thereby preventing the spread of disease to her delicate piglets or the other sows.
- And they are quick to put together. Check out this demonstration below!
As you can see farrowing huts differ from farrowing crates in that the pigs can move about freely, and are not confined to such a small area in crate. This allows for consumer confidence when purchasing pork. The Farmers can also visually see if a pig is suffering from lameness or other disease without having to constantly remove a pig from a crate. A sows social interaction is fostered with farrowing huts, and this makes for a less stressed pig, which can result in more tender and tasty meat. Farrowing huts are a great low cost alternative to farrowing crates that will keep not only the pigs happy but consumers as well.