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Typical of Finnish agricultural sector are endeavors to combine profitability with responsible production. Animal welfare has gradually become a real priority and Finnish farmers are trying out new ways. So, two years ago family Rantanen went for a large investment as they decided to transfer to free farrowing on their piglet farm in Southwest Finland. Hankkija’s product manager Satu Illman asked family Rantanen to share their experiences.
How did the transfer go? Was the change worth it?
The new farm has 12 compartments and 240 farrowing places. Brand new facilities were built for free farrowing. The first piglets were born in the new premises after Christmas 2018.
– Of course, we were concerned pondering, how sows will react to the change. However, the sows got well accustomed to the new conditions, tells Sofia Rantanen. The change went particularly smoothly with gilts.
Piglet mortality due to crushing was lower than expected and we noticed that crushing is more related to particular sow’s character rather than to the farrowing environment.
Did your expectations come true?
As we started our construction project, says Pertti Rantanen, we hoped for tangible benefits from the transfer. When implemented successfully, the free farrowing system speeds up and smoothens farrowing process and can have a positive effect on piglets further development. Animal welfare is number one priority on the farm.
– There is clearly less need for farrowing assistance than before, and induced farrowing is not used at all. Moving in the pens had required some exercise as sows might tend to overprotective behavior. We’ve reached a certain consensus with our animals. Of course, one has always to be careful with the sows and to anticipate situations, tells Sofia.
The transfer of animals has been easier in the new premises than in the old traditional pig farm, built in 2002. Cleaning the pens is easy and plastic as a floor material was a good choice. Sows move naturally and are not that irritable because the floor is not slippery.
In feeding, Rantanen farm rely on solutions provided by their feed supplier Hankkija. – We all have our strengths, and one of our strengths is our cooperation with Hankkija.
Progut® and Progres® synergy helps the piglets to a good start
To support piglets during nursery period and changes in the diet related to weaning Rantanen family farm has chosen Hankkija’s feeds, which contain Progut® and Progres® feed supplements. The right feeding during this period is a prerequisite for effective growth. One week after weaning the farm additionally starts Pro2Farm (Progut® and Progres® + carrier) supplement for 10 days – as a solution against diarrhea.
Progres® and Progut® have been shown to accelerate the development of immune protection in young animals and to support intestinal integrity and modify intestinal microbiota in a beneficial way. This synergy provides several benefits: faster development of immune protection, lower mortality before weaning, less diarrhea, and better growth and feed efficiency.
The results have been very good, and transfer to free farrowing proved a good decision. Now the family is pondering farm’s enlargement.