"Animal welfare plays a crucial part in the overall progression of our business, first and foremost we ensure that all new and existing staff understand the importance of animal welfare, this is done through in house training with the support of Mark Howells our vet which instills good habits and working procedures on a daily basis. All of our staff sign our welfare statement to state they will do everything possible to ensure every animal is cared for in the correct and kindest way. Having the highest possible levels of welfare will help us to achieve our targets and improve performance. Even the most basic checks like providing good bedding and a good water supply will have a significant effect on areas such as mortality, every pig saved has obvious benefits to our business.
Obviously improving welfare standards is an ongoing process but we have a dedicated maintenance team that are available to undertake any repairs of dry sow and farrowing arcs for example. We have touched on how we get our staff to follow our welfare statement but it is also important to mention that working closely with Cranswick Country Foods and Sainsburys allows us to implement protocols to aid our development and commitment to the care of our livestock. We have been working on the genetic lines of our breeding herds and we now have a line which means we do not have to contemplate any tail docking. We had two units where tail biting was an issue that developed when the progeny was moved to nurseries and finishers. Of the two units we closed one down and changed the other to the Tenderlean RN negative line which is unique to our business. Every two years we relocate our units to new land and undersow the paddocks with rye grass which is a massive benefit because it helps to prevent soil erosion and run off as it absorbs the water. This not only helps to provide the sows with a nice environment to live but has a good impact on the environment.
One of the leading benefits of having such high welfare standards is that we know our animals are happy and content, we do not teeth clip our piglets so we are not seen as a threat. We also walk all our sows around the unit, this removes any stress of being put onto stock trailers as they are allowed to go at their own pace with their pen mates. Because we try to get the behaviour as natural as possible for our animals it helps to establish a bond between stockperson and pig. These simple procedures make it easier for people and animals to work together. By reducing as much stress as possible from our systems we see a reduction in mortality and improved performance across our business.
As a company we believe we try to lead the way in animal welfare standards and it was truely an honour to receive recognition for our work from Compassion in 2011 with the Leadership in Pig Welfare award. The previous award has helped us to attract new farmers to our business, we have been able to do this by promoting the award in our quarterly news letter. People take notice of the award and also want to be part of a higher welfare scheme.
Our aim is to further improve on our standards and make things better for animals and staff alike. We would also like to become front runners in setting the highest welfare standards and believe we can acheive this by continuing to work closely with Cranswick Country Foods and Sainburys."
David Neal, Production Manager