At the start of 2020, POV joined JoinData and together we aim to improve the data position of pig farmers in the chain. Last year, when it was still permitted under the corona rules at the time, it was a good time for Hanneke and Marlieke from JoinData to visit a pig farm and start talking.
Pig farmer Jaap Kreuger runs their business in Woerden together with his son Jan. Through a beautiful entrance we arrive at the ‘closed’ farm. Hygiene is of paramount importance, which is why Jaap and Jan mainly work with the 500 sows and 1,100 fatteners. No pigs from outside come onto the farm. Animal welfare and health are number one. This is also reflected in the farm. The pigs look very calm and content. There is a beautiful farrowing house with underfloor heating for the piglets and there is a ‘smart floor’ in this barn. This means that the floor rises when the sow stands up, so that when she lies down she does not end up on the piglets, which means that there are far fewer dead piglets. We can see that the pig sector in the Netherlands is innovative. Jaap also told us that emissions have been greatly reduced in recent years, there are many farms that are becoming more and more sustainable (solar panels, air scrubbing etc.). This makes the pig sector one of the leaders in terms of innovation within the agricultural sector.
It’s interesting to see how Jan and Jaap view data, e.g. that there is complexity in the data we currently have. There are now many observations (visual per person) and much less ‘hard’ measurement data. However, data sharing is viewed with some suspicion in the sector. There are various questions, such as what happens when much more data is shared? For example, data from which another party can deduce that a pig farmer is earning more money, will customers then push prices down? Understanding who you share your data with is also very important. Data flows may have been left open for years because you no longer have any insight into them. It is good to be able to see this in one overview. Jaap and Jan also see a future in data sharing. Especially in the smarter combination of the various data flows. It was nice to hear what opportunities they see, such as combining weigh floor (weight) data with feed quantity. The quantity of feed needed can then be determined much more individually for each animal. And combining ‘smart barn data’ with data on the health of the fatteners. After all, to what extent does a good climate play a role in reducing lung and liver problems? It would be nice if application providers would start working with these questions in order to offer the pig industry even more innovation.
Personally I found it very interesting to hear from Jaap and Jan what considerations they have to make. For example, the trade-off between more buildings (more space per pig) and the zoning plan/approval of the municipality. This creates uncertainty about the future of the farm at this location (also in relation to being able to realize new investments/innovations). Despite this kind of uncertainty in the sector, I find it very beautiful to see the passion, knowledge and true professionalism of Jaap and Jan. I learned a lot about the pig industry and pig farming. It’s good to see with your own eyes that animal welfare is a top priority. I have shared this, the challenges and the considerations that a pig farmer has to make, with my personal circle. It’s nice to see that people react to this in a positive and understanding way. I think it’s good to be in constant dialogue with the consumer. Just like we strive to have the conversation about sharing data and what added value it can bring.