Kruisem Farm in Flanders!

A large and professional sow-farm with highly integrated sustainability and animal welfare!

The production and marketing concept for high quality pig meat was established 15 years ago from Phillip van Laere in Flanders, Belgium. The aim was, and still is, to produce a very tasty high-quality meat using Duroc genetics and to enrich it with the flavour of Olive oil used as a feed component. Philip van Laere just completed the construction of a new stable for 1700 sows almost two years ago, where he integrated not just professional standards for this large sow unit, but important elements of sustainability and animal welfare as well. Proven technology from Schauer Agrotronic automates the daily routine processes of feeding the sows and some piglets for breeding purposes, as well as delivering straw as an enrichment material to the animals.

The Spotmix Multiphase feeding system including the welfare solution for straw distribution, Compident Simultan ESF for gestating sows and the Babyfeed suckling feeding system for rescue pens are core technologies from Schauer Agrotronic to automate daily routine jobs at the Kruisem farm.

15 different feed mixtures are prepared and delivered into large silos, calculated and blended daily by the Spotmix Multiphase feeding system to provide each group of animals on the farm with the right feed mix exactly on demand or on time. Additionally, the same Spotmix system, by means of its “Welfare option”, distributes already chopped and dedusted industrial straw to the gestation pens for sow enrichment. For even better enrichment the workers are also providing short cut straw in a dispenser.

To prepare the sows perfectly for the gestation pens, the gilts are trained in extra training pens equipped with Compident Simultan training ESF. Although 95-98% of the sows can learn the feeding process at the Compident Simultan ESF intuitively and quickly, Philip van Laere wants to make sure that finally all gilts will be familiar with the ESF-gestation feeder before the first insemination. This helps to reduce any potentially stress gilts might feel on joining the new sow group and having to learn to eat at the feeding station. During gestation each weekly group is divided into one pen with 36 smaller sows with 2 feeding stations and up to 54 older and stronger sows with 3 Compident Simultan ESF feeding stations. A boar pen is located centrally in the middle between the two gestation pens and is equipped with automatic heat detection. Since all the sows are moved into the gestation pen already one day after insemination, the pregnancy check needs to be carried out 6 weeks later on all the sows in the group but the worker prefers this to doing it in a gestation crate. Compident automatic heat detection allows early identification of sows in re-heat and consequently a manual return of the sows to the breeding area. The feeding system starts at 2 o’clock in the morning and is usually finished before midday, but is automatically closed at 2 pm.

Key figures and elements of Filip van Laeres farm in Kruisem, Belgium:

  • Family farm, production and marketing enterprise 
  • Total number of sows: 1700, weekly management rhythm, average group size 80 sows 
  • 6 free farrowing groups for 5 weeks suckling period. 1 group (week) for breeding (insemination), 15 groups in gestation at Compident Simultan ESF feeding stations. Extra pens for gilt training
  • 5 employees for pig production and semen preparation for the own artificial insemination reproduction of the sow herd 
  • Small number of weaners only for own breeding purposes kept at Kruisem until 25 kg of live weight 
  • Integrated companies with 4 rental farm for weaners and 17 rental farms for finisher pigs for meat production. Total number of finisher pigs produced – about 55.000 per annum (from Kruisem farm). In 2024 a new weaner stable will be constructed on the Kruisem farm. The planning process has already started

Highly integrated sustainability and responsibility for the (human) environment.

Incoming air can be automatically conditioned and is filtered by micro-particle-filters to keep out disease. The high indoor air quality is also good for the workers. Used air from the indoor pens is collected in central air channels and treated by Bio-air washer with heat exchanger. Standing directly outside the stable you can’t even smell the pigs. The wash-water contains 9 kg of Nitrogen per tonne and is therefore an excellent fertiliser. The recycled heat energy is used to heat (condition) the incoming air. This temperature will never be lower than 5° C even at an outside temperature of – 10° C! The roofs of the stables are covered by PV panels with an electric capacity of 500 kW. The next investment, but not yet installed, is a battery for the PV system to render the production unit completely self-sufficient in electric energy. For the slurry, Philip van Laere has contracts with farms who are picking up the slurry to spread on their land. 

Kruisem farm - a large and professional sow-farm with highly integrated sustainability and animal welfare – a contradiction? Philip van Laere has a clear answer after just over two years in business.

Contemporary pig production includes efficiency and animal welfare as an important integrated part of it, as well as sustainability. Even free farrowing was and still is a challenge, we’re continuously learning to improve day by day. The higher animal welfare standards improve health and reduce mortality. Even though we can realise a good performance status, Philip van Laere says, we still have some potential to learn and to optimize the entire production process. Therefore we aim our breeding efforts at further enhancing the mother instincts of the sows, but also at training our employees in order to integrate the required experience and sensitivity for this kind of higher animal welfare standards into the daily work routine.

“I am very satisfied with the automation with the Schauer feeding technology and the straw distribution system,” says Filip van Laere, “especially the “Compident Simultan” ESF is a great solution for feeding and conditioning the pregnant sows stress-free and in line with their needs.”

Our investment in low environmental impact and green energy production pays for itself in a reasonable time. We have invested in a better live and are happy about that, Philip van Laere is proud to say.

Should you have any questions or if you are interested in our sow stable systems, feel free to contact us anytime.