Keep it Simple - that's the strategy at Sofiesminde Pig Farm in Denmark

Published: 2023-03-29

Even due to the fact that feed costs have increased, the feed recipes are not changed very often. Pig producer Palle Eriksen is focused especially on the production costs and he maintains the measures that works.

At Sofiesminde there are 1,250 annual sows with production of 30 kg pigs. The majority of the annual production of 39,000 piglets is sold to permanent customers in Denmark, while the remaining 6-7,000 are fattened ready for the slaughterhouse.

The production is located at the Sofiesminde Farm right on the border between Central and North Jutland, Denmark in a great agricultural area.

Sofiesminde is Palle Eriksen's birthplace. It used to be a farm that produced both pigs and milk until 12 years ago. Since 2010, the main focus has been on raising pigs, and a new 40-meter wide and compact barn was recently built after stopping milk production. Additionally, the farm generates income from 600 hectares of crops and wind turbines.


Farm in Aalestrup, Jutland, Denmark

Owned by Palle Eriksen

1,250 sows producing 39,000 piglets

600 hectares of crop farming
+ wind turbine operation

8 employees

A stable production

- Pig farming is the backbone of the farm, emphasizes Palle Eriksen, while he sits at the office table where he attends the daily morning meetings with the farm staff.

There are a total of eight employees, six of whom work in the pig farming section.

- We have several employees who have been here for many years. One has been here since 1989, another since 1996 and a third since his apprenticeship, says the pig producer, who has a team in the stable consisting of three Danes and three Ukrainians. Two of them have also been on the farm for a long time.

In general, it is a stable production where the trend follows a straight line with results that are on the right side of the national average.

- We have only had some minor bumps on the road in the climate unit. This was related to the phasing out of medical zinc oxide, says Palle Eriksen.

In terms of infection, the herd is also well positioned, as Sofiesminde is located in a cattle area far from other pig herds. This location is advantageous, especially in relation to PRRS, and Palle Eriksen can also state that the herd has had the highest health status ever since 2011.

Results from the

Weaned per year, number 37.1
Live-born per litter, number 18.6
Mortality in farrowing pen, % 9.3
Feed conversion ratio per kg of gain 1.65
Mortality, % 2.9
Daily weight gain, g 476

Focus on the production costs

You do not even need to reach the stable door to sense that this is a farm where there are clean lines in terms of the buildings and the surrounding areas. But in terms of operations, you can quickly sense from Palle Eriksen that there are no loose ends when it comes to management objectives.

The conversation quickly turns to feed, where the results show a very low feed consumption compared to the national average. In general, the farm, where all feed is home-mixed at its own mill, has a strong focus on feed waste. For example, in the weaners unit, massive plates have been invested around the feeders to prevent the feed from simply falling into the slots.

- I have always had a strong focus on production costs, where we have also always been low, emphasizes Palle Eriksen. At the same time, he quickly makes it clear that he does not compromise when it comes to feed quality.

- We prioritize feed hygiene highly. With our own grain, we can ensure that the quality is right, even though grain storage can be troublesome due to different storage systems available at the farm.

Keep it Simple

- We usually always buy feed during harvest season. However, we have not done it this year due to the high prices, but we have not changed the feed structure. We also have not used some modern raw materials such as sugar beet pellets during this period, says Palle Eriksen with a smile.


The milk replacer from Vilomix used in sow keeping at Sofiesminde has the following composition:

Protein, g 18.5
Fat, % 17
Lactose, % 47
Protein from milk, % 65
Dairy products, % 73
Veg. Fat, % 16
Soy and wheat protein, % 6
Premix, % 6

- Instead, we prefer to use oats in our mixtures, as it is a raw material we have in-house.

At the same time the pig producer also points out that feed is their biggest expense. However, expensive additives are not where the money goes at Sofiesminde.

- We want to Keep it Simple. We don't use additives and we don't have buckets standing around to sprinkle here and there...

Milk from birth to weaning

Despite Palle Eriksen's focus to keep the production costs low, he decided to invest in a milk cup system in May 2021. Unlike many other producers during this period, where the prices for pigs was not very high, he did not choose to cut back on milk. On the contrary, they continue to use milk from birth to weaning.

- We brought in the milk cup system to make it easier to care for the piglets. At the same time, I believe it can help to spare the sow. If everything is going well with the sow, the milk consumption is lower. That's been my experience, says Palle Eriksen, who points out that it is easy to see if the sows, for example, are more sluggish in the summer. Then the piglets take more milk from the milk cup system.

The pig producer also makes it clear that he does not change the feed for sows and piglets based on fluctuations in current prices. Likewise, there is still fat in the tank in the mixing room.

- We also don't stop doing that even though the price has risen significantly. We don't change things constantly!


Once piglets have received colostrum and are well into the habit of suckling, there are many benefits to be gained from supplementing the sow’s milk with a tasty prestarter.

6,5 kr. per pig

For Palle Eriksen, who buys the milk powder "Elitemilk Pigi Cup Favorite" from Vilomix, it costs just under DKK 7 per pig to keep the milk cups in the farrowing pen. That is about DKK 6.5 per pig for pure milk on average over the past year. (1DKK=1,13 EUR).

According to pig nutritionist Bo Pedersen from Vilomix, the price of milk powder has not increased as much compared to other feed ingredients during this time. On Sofiesminde, the milk has cost an average of DKK 15.9 per kg of pure milk over the past year.

- Using milk as a supplement makes it easier to take care of the piglets, but it is not a magical solution, emphasizes Palle Eriksen. He also highlights that they focus on giving the piglets dry feed in the farrowing unit to ensure they are used to it before weaning.

A simple system

The milk cup system runs constantly. Milk is opened in the individual farrowing pen as soon as the sow has farrowed. After that, the piglets have free access to milk until weaning. The system, which is weight-controlled, takes in milk on time and recirculates it constantly, pumping milk out into the eight sections in the farrowing unit.

The barn staff mixes 20 kg of milk at a time - a total of two bags per day - and spends no more than five minutes washing once a week, during which the filter is also emptied. In addition to the milk being intended to provide more robust piglets at weaning and help the sows, the goal of the milk system investment was also to reduce the need for nurse sows.

It has been a success, but since then the number of nurse sows has risen again as the sows have since had more piglets.

In 2020, the result was 12,7 pigs/sow in their own weaning, while the current figure in the e-report says 13,4 pigs/sow and an average of 17 weaned pigs per litter. The result for the whole of 2022 reached 37,1 weaned pigs per annual sow.

Any questions?

Please contact our Vilomix nutritionists in pigs here.

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