Manpower also makes a difference
The latest measure taken by Frihedslund is a trial period of staggered shifts, to man the farrowing house from 5 am to 10 pm.
Initially, this was a measure introduced to avoid having more than five people in the unit because of Covid-19 – but it may well be permanently adopted!
It makes it possible to ensure that all piglets get those vital 8 hours with their mother, after which a nursing sow can be used, to avoid the sow lying with too many piglets until the next day.
More monitoring in the farrowing house has also meant fewer mortalities for the fourth week in a row. “Everyone has been very positive about the new measure, which is important when changes are implemented”, explains Christina.
In the last quarter, Christina worked closely with the personnel and the herd vet to raise the level of weaned by weaning without it affecting mortality rates. The sows have been put out with more piglets, and the personnel have been focusing on learning to notice when they are not getting enough to drink, and when they are simply smaller.
In practical terms, they physically palpitate their stomachs to determine whether they contain milk. Piglets in the grey zone are marked and taken to a nursing sow the next day if they do not improve. Using this model, Frihedslund has raised
weaned by weaning to 0.5 piglets per sow – without any increase in mortality.
The photo shows one of the latest measures: an extra curtain in front of the covered creep area to help retain warmth.
The biggest challenge at Frihedslund is personnel changes, as there are always four trainees employed. The important thing here is for everyone to appreciate the importance of different ways of working. One of Christina’s most important duties is to check that routines are always followed in the farrowing unit. That also means the chance for the personnel to engage in useful discussions.