Farming Pigs in New Zealand
Growing New Zealand pigs is what our farmers do. It takes skill, expertise, knowledge and care to farm pigs well.
Farming pigs is unique from farming other domesticated animals in New Zealand. Pigs have a greater need for shelter and their social and dietary requirements are more complex than sheep and cattle.
The Modern Pig
The modern pig has been selectively bred over a large number of years to produce high quality lean pork. These modern efficient pigs require a different environment and specialist facilities to a) care for big litters from a large animal, b) manage a fast growing, lean meat producing animal and c) to efficiently convert feed in an environmentally sustainable way.
Feeding & Nutrition
Pigs do not derive nutrition from grass. Unlike sheep and cattle they are not ruminants (multi stomach grass eaters), they are single stomach (mono gastric) omnivores requiring a balanced diet of protein and carbohydrates, fed daily.
Farmers use nutritionists to meet the specific dietary needs of different aged pigs, from young weaners through the adult pigs, including lactating sows.
The farmer monitors the pigs’ diet closely to ensure each pig is receiving its optimal feed requirements. Food is the biggest single cost of production for any pig farmer.
Farrowing is when a sow gives birth to her piglets. A sow can produce over 20 piglets in a litter, however averages approximately 12-14 at approximately 1-1.5kg’s in weight.
The majority of farmers use specialist hygienic farrowing facilities to minimise piglet losses, and allow for special attention to be provided to both the sow and her piglets at this critical stage.
These facilitates are designed to provide care and comfort for these animals all year round. Sows have piglets all year round so these facilities are designed to manage all climatic conditions.
You can read more about farrowing and farrowing systems by clicking here.
NZ has one of the highest health status’ for pigs in the world. We do not have many of the serious diseases that are prevalent in other pig producing nations. On farm health is monitored daily via visual checks, maintaining good biosecurity and ensuring clean facilities.
Farmers apply stringent biosecurity practices to maintain the health of their pigs. Among other things, this is achieved by limiting and controlling visitors entering the farm to minimise the risk of introducing diseases.
Pigs are social and hierarchical animals. Farmers will monitor and maintain social groupings to minimise stress.
Farmers also employ vets to ensure not only ongoing maintenance of high health but to assist with any individual issues as they arise. To read more, click here.
PigCare™ welfare assessment programme provides assurance that pigs are well cared for. It is a world class welfare programme that was developed by Massey University and independently managed with auditing undertaken by trained, calibrated auditors.
Today > 95% of NZ pigs are farmed under PigCare™ accreditation.
You can find out more about PigCare™ here.
A great way to get an understanding of how pigs are farmed is take a look around New Zealand pig farms by watching our on farm videos here.