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Health and well- being paramount on Finnish pig farm


BY KEES VAN DOOREN, REPORTER BOERDERIJ A


nimal welfare is always top of mind on Finnish pig farms. This is no different at Taru Antikainen’s farm. The weaned piglets have sawdust on the largely closed floor and play material hangs from the pen


partition. The pens are spacious and have a long trough where all the animals can eat at the same time. Finns often work with climate zones in the compartments. A warm area for sleeping and a cooler zone where animals can feed and fatten up.


Stress-free space This barn design was not chosen lightly. The Finns have not been allowed to tail dock since 2003. The pen layout, nutrition and climate are therefore fully designed to provide the pigs with a pleasant, stress-free space that does not encourage biting. The newly weaned piglets even have a feeder in the pen to offer the animals dry food in addition to liquid feed. This contributes to the most relaxed weaning period possible, while the burden on the intestines is minimal. Taru Antikainen: “A good, constant feed intake is important to prevent tail biting. Gut health must be in order and pigs must not feel hungry at any time“.


Taru Antikainen spends a lot of time observing the animals.


Piglets observation The pig farmer does her utmost to offer the best care possible for the piglets. She also spends a lot of time observing the animals. Keeping pigs with intact tails also means paying close attention to how the animals behave. If the tail is nicely curled and a pig has a full belly, the risk that it will bite is minimal. Antikainen points out the tails of piglets as she likes them, nicely curled and cheerfully moving back and forth. A piglet whose tail hangs down poses a risk of biting. The experience is that it is often the smaller animals, often also gilts, that start tail biting. The pigs of a Duroc boar are fed rapeseed oil in their feed. The Finns also call them ‘omega 3 pigs’ because their meat con- tains more healthier fatty acids than conventional pigs, is the explanation. According to the farmer, the meat of her pigs is more tender and has a softer taste. Antikainen says “the fat composition of the pork is comparable to that of poultry meat”.


▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020


Finnish pig farmer Taru Antikainen works animal- oriented to produce healthy pigs with intact tails. She receives a premium for the pigs that are raised without antibiotics.


The newly weaned piglets have a feeder in the pen to offer the animals dry food in addition to liquid feed.


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PHOTO’S: HENK RISWICK


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