Tightly organised pig farm performs well

22 feb 2023

In Borgloon in Belgium, Lieve and Raf Claes operate their Golmeer farm. The farm’s exterior looks well-cared for and is in good shape. Behind the scenes, everything is in good order, too. All this does not just happen by itself. The company is tightly organised and its supplier, De Heus, is expected to use a similar well-structured approach. The results speak for themselves. Everything is running extremely well with respect to the sows, the piglets and the fattening pigs.

Raf Claes

The farm

Golmeer is a family farm with 210 sows and 2,000 fattening pigs. The fattening pigs pen is equipped with an air scrubber and solar panels. The farm is operated on the basis of a three-week system. Under this system, about 30 sows farrow every three weeks and the piglets are weaned when they are four weeks old. This system is used for all other animal categories as well. This requires tight scheduling, but it fits well into the farm’s operations and works well for the entrepreneurs.

Care farm

Raf and Lieve are also members of Steunpunt Groene Zorg. This means that they give people in vulnerable groups useful work for two or three days per week. This gives the couple a great deal of satisfaction. Lieve also works 20 hours outside the farm, but is always home when the sows are farrowing.


Vaccination causes minimal unrest

Vaccinating the sows is one of Lieve’s tasks and is performed on a tight schedule as well. She uses a five centimetre long needle for this purpose with a flexible extension. This minimises the sows’ reaction to the vaccination in the group pen. The sows are vaccinated against PRRS, flu, Parvovirus/swine erysipelas, Coli, the Rotavirus, Mycoplasma and are also administered an anti-streptococcal vaccine. Because the pigs are vaccinated against Mycoplasma, the piglets and fattening pigs experience few health problems and there is no need for group medications. The four-week old weaning pigs start up well with Comfort 4 crumb feed and after that with Comfort 5 meal feed.

The farm’s own TN70 sows are very healthy

The TN70 sows are raised in-house under the guidance of Topigs. The farm stopped accepting animals from elsewhere many years ago. As a result the farm’s health status is at a very high level. The sows are fed Premium Dracht Solide and Premium Lacto Comfort feed. These feeds contain clean cereals and rolled raw materials. This ensures stable feed intake and produces excellent results. The quality of the sows’ colostrum was recently checked. The average Brix value of the colostrum was an impressive 25.9. The colostrum’s nutritional value was also high, with 25% dry matter, 16.2% crude protein, 5.0 crude fat and 2.5% lactose.

Clean compartments every cycle

The farrowing, piglet and fattening pig compartments are sprayed clean every cycle. A strict protocol is followed for this purpose: foaming, spray cleaning, disinfecting (dry compartment) and leaving the piglet and fattening pig compartments empty for a week.

Evaluation of results

The results of the piglets and fattening pigs are calculated and discussed every four months. The results are calculated from 7 kg up to and including 120 kg and consequently are not comparable to the Dutch result calculation standards. (Growth from 7 kg is well above 730 grams/day and total losses are below 4.5%.) The Maxter is currently used for insemination. The fattening results of this are not yet known. The fattening pigs are fed Super 9 meal up to 40 kg and after that they are fed Super 12 pellets. Various boars were used over the years. The switchover scheme and feeds are determined on the basis of the GPS (De Heus’ calculation program) calculations and the overall condition of the sows.


A joint meeting every six months

Every six months there is a meeting with the veterinarian, a breeding specialist and a De Heus advisor to discuss the farm’s developments and results. Discussions during the meeting are transparent. The drinking water was recently dealt with as a result. It proved to be infected with enterococci. Today, an automatic installation is used to disinfect the drinking water with Huwa-San peroxide.

Healthy animals are the starting point

Raf ensures that the well-structured approach is maintained, so that the farm continues to run well in the area of health. He is absolutely unwilling to make any concessions in this area. He is happy with the way things are running now and is not planning to increase the farm’s size. This is why, during the coming period, fewer sows will be inseminated, because they are increasingly weaning more piglets; on average 14.5. The goal is to consistently produce excellent results with the lowest possible failure costs and in such a way that the animals, and he and Lieve, feel happy.