2:30pm Tuesday 1st October 2013
By Mike Bridgen
BPEX has trialled three new slot reduction and closure techniques for concrete floors in pig pens.
Such floors wear with use and some were also installed before current regulations for pig welfare were introduced, meaning that there are some cases where slot or beam widths are outside those stipulated in legislation and assurance standards.
Nigel Penlington, BPEX’s environment programme manager, said the damage might be very localised.
“The trial aimed to avoid replacing entire floors or large sections on farms unable to achieve the requirements,”
Bpex invited suppliers with potential solutions to take part in the long-term trials and three systems were offered – slot reducer plate inserts, steel bar inserts and slot closer insert plates.
The trial compared groups of grower and finisher pigs kept in pens where a system was installed and an equivalent number of pigs in adjacent pens without.
After installation, a vet visited each of the participating farms over the course of several months to assess the welfare of the pigs.
Producers were also asked for feedback about their general satisfaction, ease of installation, device durability and methods of repair.
The results were generally favourable.
The slot closure devices were perceived to be good and, providing they were installed correctly, producers found that the floor beam width could be increased to meet legislative requirements without any negative impact on the pigs. Very similar results were achieved with the slot reducer devices but, as with the slot closure mechanism, correct installation was vital to prevent the pigs dislodging the devices.
Both Defra and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency staff were satisfied that the inserts were an acceptable solution to reducing gap width.
The steel bar inserts were also considered a success, but are not applicable to all floor types. Overall, all three methods of narrowing slots and widening beams were effective and Bpex will continue to monitor the farms.
Factsheets on all three systems are available from email@example.com and can be downloaded from bpex.org.uk/publications/ 2TS/ResearchintoAction.
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