Midland Pig Producers welcomes RSPCA approval of ground-breaking pen

A pioneering farrowing unit which has been designed with the highest animal wellbeing considerations in mind has received official backing from the RSPCA, it can be revealed.

The 360° Freedom Farrower

The 360° Freedom Farrower

The 360° Freedom Farrower, created by Staffordshire-based Midland Pig Producers (MPP), is an innovative concept in farrowing pen design allowing the sow to move around freely while continuing to protect the piglets and the handlers. Traditional farrowing crates were banned by the RSPCA under their Freedom Food Farm Assurance Codes because they prevent the sow from turning around and only allow limited movement forwards and backwards.

MPP’s revolutionary alternative, which provides the sow with greater freedom while maintaining a footprint no bigger than traditional farrowing crates, has now been officially confirmed as meeting the RSPCA’s Welfare Standards for Pigs May 2012 criteria. These highly-regarded welfare standards are developed to promote best practice in the care and welfare of commercially-farmed pigs at all stages of their lives. Specifications include ensuring farrowing quarters are designed to offer some form of protection for piglets from crushing, maintaining a temperature suitable for piglets by provision of supplementary heating and ensuring that farrowing crates enable the sow to turn around easily.

The 360° Freedom Farrower, the design team lead by MPP Managing Director Martin Baker, goes way beyond traditional constraining units used widely across the UK. The user-friendly system has easily adjustable penning bars to allow pig producers to confine the sow immediately prior to farrowing. After she has farrowed, the bars are moved back to increase her space while the sloping sides of the reclined penning bars gives her support, should she want it, when she lies down.

The piglets can safely move out the way of the sow by going to the end sections of the pens and have the benefit of additional heat through water-heated panels. As a result of the improved welfare of the sow they are heavier at weaning which brings considerable economic benefits.

Martin Barker said: “We’ve known for some time that our 360° Freedom Farrower breaks new ground in pig farming standards and I’m absolutely delighted our efforts have now received the official seal of approval from the RSPCA – one of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities.

“MPP has always maintained it is committed to developing welfare-conscious farming practices and the design of this pen is just one example of how we are continually adapting to deliver greater comfort and wellbeing to our pigs. The RSPCA’s animal welfare standards are notoriously stringent and I hope this independent verification will give us with greater credibility for what we are trying to achieve within modern farming.”

 

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