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Practical solutions in day-to-day operations

Sometimes the devil is in the detail. And then there are requirements for one’s own farm that simply cannot be solved with off-the-shelf products. In such cases, only an intensive exchange with the customer and observing the individual circumstances on site can help.

Here, we show some practical examples of how we have accompanied our customers on their path.

Interview with Christoph Heimann, organic farmer from Recklinghausen

Keeping sows compliant with Bioland requirements

Hello Mr Heimann. You put your new pig house into operation last year. Tell us about it.

We have a sow farm based on Bioland regulations and manage 250 sows with piglet rearing on an area of about 4,500 square metres. What is special here is that each animal can be in the open air for 24 hours.

How did the cooperation with WEDA come about?

WEDA has been familiar as one of the players on the market. Basically, we already had ideas and had already made drawings. With that, we approached WEDA and asked: “What can you do for us?” WEDA then greatly helped us implement our developments.

What was particularly important to you?

Well, there are several points. On the one hand, it was important to us that everything is the same and therefore easy to understand not only for the animals. Each pen – be it in the farrowing area or in the piglet house – has an identical structure. This means that the piglet hardly has to get used to anything new after weaning. Furthermore, it is important to us to have a high level of safety for us and our employees. We wanted to be able to get out of the pen as quickly as possible without the sow being able to follow behind, when necessary. Another important point is that the pen is designed to allow the animals to move freely. A sow can farrow freely, but for aggressive or problematic animals there is the possibility to restrain them for a short time to minimise piglet crushing.

The feeding troughs do justice to animal behaviour, as the piglets basically have the possibility to eat from the same trough together with their mother. The water troughs are installed in the outdoor enclosure, meaning the pen always remains clean, since the animals defecate in the outdoor enclosure. Here in the outside area, by the way, specially designed swivelling gates are installed, which we can quickly swivel with a handle and lock to the wall so that the wheel loader can push through the enclosures in one movement. The gates lift out of the straw independently and easily when swivelled, so we do not have to push hard. This saves us a lot of time and work! All things considered, it was important to us not to construct the pen in a way that pleased us, but instead to allow the animal to use the pen as needed.

The gestation area is also very open in design. What is that all about?

Well, we built a large roof here, which opens in the middle. This way, the pigs also come into contact with rain at any time. In addition, the gates are always open. If the pigs want, they can go outside or burrow themselves into the straw inside and relax. On the one hand, we then set up an electronic feeding station where we can feed the animals into shape from the 40th day of gestation onwards and can select them thanks to the ear tags used. On the other side we have the feeding stations, which we can quickly fix with a holder to facilitate smooth occupation.

Since 2018, you have converted your farm to organic farming. The biogas plant at the second location also has the legal status of an eco-gas plant. What is going to be next?

Currently, we continue to deliver the piglets to several finishing farms here in the area. In principle, however, we are still planning to build a finishing house at our second location. For this purpose, we intend to abandon the keeping of horses for boarding. Furthermore, we would like to optimise the marketing of our products and soon sell and deliver our organic meat ourselves. To achieve this, we want to openly present ourselves to all interested parties. For example, we have incorporated a visitors’ room into our house that will be accessible to visitors at all times. From there, you can look into the house as if from a balcony and witness live how the animals burrow into the straw. People are not at all familiar with that. We are already looking forward to the visitors! 

That sounds exciting! Thank you very much for the interview and all the best for the future!

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