Today we visited the new pig barn built for the new concept “Zonvarkens” (sun pigs). This concept was developed by a group of pig farmers. The idea is to raise pigs whereby they have a good quality of life and can express their natural behaviour. They have room to move, access to the outdoors and fresh air, bedding to build nests and forage in, the sows will have a large field and in the near future the plan is to give the fattening pigs also a large outdoor play are. At the moment the sows they bought to give birth to the first generation of Zonvarken piglets have had their tails docked, but the tails of the piglets born here will not be docked and the males will not be castrated. They will use breeds that are robust and litter size reasonable (never larger than the number of teats).
The piglets will be weaned at a much later age than normal and remain always in the same group, never mixed, in order to prevent any stress from imbalanced hierarchy. Additionally, the concept includes environmental measures such as solar panels and a special pig toilet system so that the amount of time urine is in contact with manure is minimal, and thus ammonia levels kept low.
Eyes on Animals is impressed with the care and thought that went into this concept and during our visit today we indeed observed pigs that were content. Together with Zonvarkens Eyes on Animals will brainstorm how they can also best assure humane transport and slaughter of their pigs. Currently they have chosen to slaughter their pigs at a small plant that uses a coral raceway and electric stunning, that Eyes on Animals has worked with in the past and considers one of the “best”slaughterhouses for pigs in Europe, as the level of stress and noise is far lower than other plants. As long as people consume meat, we would like that these types of concepts be supported and to put an end to intensive factory farming.