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Free Farrowing Economics

economicsInvesting in new farrowing accommodation will require budgeting for a number of potential costs. These costs will depend on which farrowing system you choose to adopt. Outdoor and Multi-suckle systems are generally regarded as low-cost alternatives, whereas individual pens with specific pen features are more expensive. However costs of any farrowing system are not only dependent on capital investment but also on performance and efficiency. 

What are the Potential Costs?

The major areas in which costs of a free farrowing system may differ from a crate system are:

  • Capital costs of pen structure 
  • Building space allowance
  • Straw bedding provision
  • Piglet mortality
  • Labour requirements

But there are also a number of possible benefits of free farrowing (as demonstrated in research trials) that could offset some of these costs.

What are the Potential Advantages?

  • Market premium opportunities 
  • Better performance (e.g. higher weaning weights)
  • Better rebreeding efficiency

How to cost your own development

Use our interactive costing model.

Follow these instructions.

Research results:

Our economists have also built a spreadsheet-based costings model from research trials as well as information from industry to run scenarios about potential costs in different alternative farrowing systems. Click on the download below for results from some of the most high-profile systems.

Costs of high profile alternative systems

For more information please contact: Dr Jonathan Guy, or Professor Sandra Edwards,

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