EU PiG is a Europe-wide network for sharing and spreading the best practices of European pig farms. To highlight good practices, the EU PiG Grand Prix awards the best practices at pig farms throughout Europe.
Pig farms from Finland were represented by Sikana farm in Ilmajoki. Built in 2006, the piggery's practices are those of a so-called normal Finnish farm where the welfare and health care of the animals are in focus, just like at all Atria Pork chain's farms. "In the competition, we were representing all the producers who take good care of their animals and who are proud of their profession. The prize thus belongs to all of us," says Markku Puska, Sikana's owner.
Sikana farm won first prize in the Tail Docking category, which awards best practices for preventing tail biting in pigs. The docking of pigs' tails is forbidden throughout the EU, but only in Finland and Sweden are pigs farmed without routine docking. Tail biting is a behavioural problem and a symptom of stress experienced by the pigs. "Especially by the pigs' living conditions affect tail biting: factors include space, feeding, ventilation, stimuli, and planning of the pens," Atria Pork veterinarian Taneli TIrkkonen explains. He reminds that the pig farms in Atria Pork chain work constantly towards the improvement of these factors. "Tail biting is monitored also at slaughterhouses and the numbers are very low," he says.
"Tail biting and the infections caused by tail biting are one of the leading causes for antibiotic treatment of pigs. Since tail biting is so low at our farms, there is little need of medication," Tirkkonen explains. Increase in antibiotic resistance increases also the discussion surrounding the excessive use of antibiotics. The good living conditions of animals can be seen in decreased medication. Finland has reason to be proud!
More about Sikana farm here (in Finnish).