What modifications will I make to my fattening farm?

What modifications will I make to my fattening farm?

20th June 2024 - News

Óscar Toledano. Rotecna Sales Manager.

Royal Decree 159/2023 was published on March 7, 2023, establishing provisions for applying the European Union regulations on official controls on animal welfare in Spain. Several royal decrees were modified, which must be applied to all new farms built after their application and those existing as of March 8, 2025.

We have already analysed how the increase in the minimum free space necessary for animals from 85 to 130 kg and the control of environmental conditions can affect us. Therefore, we will see other modifications we must make in our facilities regarding the availability of materials and feeding systems of fattening farms to comply with the new regulations.

It is specified that pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of materials or a combination of safe materials, preferably edible, that are chewable and explorable and allow adequate research and handling activities. Enrichment materials should be such that animals maintain interest in them, replace or replenish them regularly, and be accessible for oral handling at all times. The materials' suitability will be assessed through periodic sampling and at least once a week. This assessment will not be necessary in pens where the animals have their tails intact. It is not defined by the methodology with which it is assessed, whether the enrichment material provided allows adequate research and manipulation activity and whether the animals do not lose interest in them, so we can only do it subjectively.

It is established that when pigs are fed at will, there will be at least one feeding point for every 20 or every five animals if they are weaned piglets weighing up to 25 kg. It is not specified, but it is understood that the feeding point does not refer to a feed drop point but rather to the access space to food necessary for each animal, according to its size, following the specifications from the manufacturer regarding the number of animals that each feeder can feed.

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When pigs are fed at will, there will be at least one feeding point for every 20 animals. Foto: Rotecna. 

It is specified that when pigs are fed in groups and not at will or through an automatic individual feeding system, each pig will have access to the feed at the same time as the other animals in the group. In this sense, we interpret that when it is said that they must have access to food at the same time as the other animals in the group, it refers to on equal terms, not simultaneously, since there are electronic feeding systems that feed the pigs of fattening in a consecutive and controlled manner that allows all animals to eat without problems, as electronic feeding stations for gestation sows with groups of 15 to 80 animals also do successfully, depending on the technology used.

It is confirmed that all animals, regardless of their feeding system, will have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of water of adequate and clean quality. In groups of animals, one drinking point must be available at a height appropriate to that of the animal for every 12 pigs. If the animals' feed is liquid or wet, the number of drinking points can be reduced by 50%.

It is also not specified, but it is interpreted that a drinking point is not a waterfall point, but rather the space for access to water necessary for each animal according to its size since there are drinking fountains with more spaces for animals than pacifiers, and level valve systems that always keep the drinkers full, no matter how large they may be, they provide multiple drinking spaces per water drop point. Likewise, wet food is understood to be food in which we have a feeder where the food is dispensed dry but has water points that allow the animals to mix it with the water when ingesting it.

As in the case of doubts about how to apply density reduction and control of environmental conditions, we will have to wait for the Ministry to clarify the points that leave the most questions. Anyway, let us hope that, as was the case with the adaptation of sows' farms to group gestation and 28-day weaning, this new regulation will provide an actual increase in the animals' well-being, which will indeed have an impact on an increase in productivity that will compensate for the effort that compliance will entail.

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