Farmers' experiences of depop-repop of sow farms in the Netherlands
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This study is carried out at the request to a group of Dutch pig veterinarians united in the “Survival Group”, who have indicated that the future Dutch pig industry has to produce in a veterinary and social responsible manner. Farming within a SPF system is seen as an important element. However, the Survival group thinks there is a lack of information about the actual benefits of SPF pig farming in The Netherlands. The aim of this study is to make an extensive inventory of the experiences of sow farmers as well as the changes in animal health of the farms that have made the transition to an SPF status by using the depop-repop method in the Netherlands. The survey consisted of four parts: the motivation of the transition, the current experiences, the changes in production and the economical results before and after the transition. The type of interview used in this study is called a semi structured interview, with in total 22 questions. A total of eleven suitable farms that carried out depop-repop were visited, for an interview with the farmer. During this interview the data were collected for this study. The increased job satisfaction is the most important benefit for pig farmers that have conducted a depop-repop. The job satisfaction is improved due to the improvements in animal health. This improved animal health also results in a lower use of antibiotics and lower animal health costs. The weaned piglets in this study have 85%, and the sows have 55% lower use of antibiotics compared to a Dutch average sow farm in 2016(1). Because of the improved animal health the farmers responded that they are more assured of the marketing of their piglets. Next to the positive experiences, almost all farmers responded that it’s very difficult to remain free of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus in a pig dense country as the Netherlands.