Welfare priority in new pig sheds

Welfare priority in new pig sheds


Agribusiness
Animal welfare is a priority at Craig Mostyn Group's Mogumber pork farm

Animal welfare is a priority at Craig Mostyn Group's Mogumber pork farm

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CRAIG Mostyn Group (CMG) opened its first state-of-the-art temperature controlled sheds at its Mogumber pork farm last week.

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CRAIG Mostyn Group (CMG) opened its first state-of-the-art temperature controlled sheds at its Mogumber pork farm last week.

The new UK-designed sheds will trial a farrow-free pen environment, which enhances animal welfare by replacing traditional farrow crates with a 360 degree farrowing pen.

CMG CEO David Lock said the sheds were the first of their kind in Australia.

"We signed an agreement with the UK to get the exclusive building designs," Mr Lock said.

"The facility will reduce stress and improve the quality of the product and a happy pig means better meat."

The new $10 million tunnel-ventilated sheds were officially opened by Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston.

Mr Baston said the new facility supported animal welfare, which is a priority in the industry today.

"I would like to congratulate CMG on their new facility and their vision and applaud the key role the company plays in contributing to the WA pork industry's success," Mr Baston said.

"The facility will go a long way to addressing consumer demand for pork to be produced using ethical and welfare-friendly production systems."

The new sheds will also reduce operating costs, create at least five new industry jobs for experienced piggery stock people and double the pork farm's production from 500 to 1000 pigs per week.

The first 400 sows entered the new sheds in early April and will convert to a total of 20,000 growers by November 2014.

Mr Lock said it was their responsibility to produce animals in a more welfare-friendly way and CMG was committed to achieving this by continuing to explore innovative farming methods.

"The introduction of tunnel ventilated, temperature controlled, farrow-free crate sheds at Mogumber improves the comfort and conditions for our pigs," Mr Lock said.

"Better comfort and conditions, particularly for our breeding sows, leads to increased production and an even higher quality product.

"This is important for the business because it provides us with greater capacity to meet projected increases in domestic and export market demand, creating a sustainable industry."

The new sheds will be sow-stall free, replacing sow stalls with a group housing system during pregnancy.

Sows will be group housed in straw-based shelters with an electronic feeding system allowing increased management of the feeding program during gestation.

The tunnel ventilated sheds enable greater temperature control in the growing and breeding areas, delivering cooler temperatures in summer and warmer temperatures in winter.

"This is only stage one, and we hope to have an agreement signed for stage two, later this year," Mr Lock said.

"This will add another 500 pigs a week.

"Supply has always been a problem, but now the market is growing we are seeing pork move east to supply the domestic market.

"This has created an opportunity to grow the industry in WA, to supply the domestic market and also to export some pork as well."

In terms of animal welfare, CMG executive director Andrew Mostyn said the grower area can now control the environment for the pigs to keep them within their thermo-neutral zone.

"This reduces stress, which can have a negative effect on the health of the pigs and their feed conversion," Mr Mostyn said.

"In the breeder area, temperature control of the farrowing houses will maximise the feed intake of the sows increasing milk production, which in turn boosts the piglet weaning weight and breeding performance of sows."

The results of the new shed will be seen in late October, when the pigs are fully grown and ready for market.

"Everyone wants them," Mr Lock said.

"They will be ready for customers at the end of the year and we will see the results of the stress free environment."

CMG, operating under the Linley Valley Pork brand, holds a 95 per cent market share in WA.

It currently exports 30pc of pork it produces and is the major supplier of Australian pork to Singapore.

The company owns and operates pig farms at Gingin, Albany, Narrogin and Nambeelup, with the investment at Mogumber making it the largest pork producer in the State.

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