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Pig Producing Options

Pig farms

IntroductionRapid developments in the agricultural sector have led to a larger supply of relatively cheap food. It also has led to increasing public concern about the effects these developments have on the environment and a raising public awareness of the low circumstances the animals are kept in. From a public point of view, these concerns underline the need to steer these developments and not to leave it entirely to the sector.This is an example from Hungary. In 2000 there were large pig farms that had formerly been state-owned cooperatives and since the 1998 change in regime had been privatized. The country intended to become a full member of European Union which it became in 2004. The government was aware that the EU applied stricter rules in animal production, especially in environment and animal welfare and it was keen to gain a better understanding on what to focus on. A team of Dutch experts, consisting of a pig-house specialist, an environmental expert, an energy expert and an economist visited the six largest pig farms in Hungary. Based on the information collected, the team created some pig-producing models that could meet the EU standards. For each of the models it assessed and calculated indicators in terms of economy, ecology, energy independence and animal welfare.After consultation with representatives from the pig-sector, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment and Agricultural Research institutes, the team proposed three pig-house alternatives: 1) Airfilter, biogas, reflushing, wetlands covered with lemna. 2) Airfilter, biogas, reflushing, wetlands and chemical filter.3) Without airfilter, reflushing biogas, no lemna in wetlands.The three differ in the amount of available space for the sows, for the piglets, for the pigs to be fattened, in the way it is dealt with the smell in the pighouse, how the manure is treated and disposed and one was with straw to nibble.Over a period of 25 year, the team calculated, for each of the alternatives how many offspring could be produced under these three pig-house regimes starting with 1000 sows, allowing for differences in sow fertility, piglet mortality rates, feed requirements, feed-conversion rates and finally, how many pigs could fattened and be sold per year. Between the three alternatives differences occur because for example, when a sow is given more space the likelihood that it will kill a piglet increases. If piglets have more space to move, their food conversion rate will increase meaning more feed needed to fatten them and more energy is needed to keep the pighouse warm.EconomicsBy using estimates for economic investment costs and the expected operation, maintenance and capital costs, it was possible to calculate a list of economic indicators of which two were selected for comparison: the Nett Present Value per pig produced and the present value of Investment plus operation and maintenance cost per pig produced. The latter was included to avoid the insecurity of price fluctuations in the pork market, also named the pork-cycle.EnvironmentThe team calculated the N, P, K nutrients that would remain in the manure. They calculated first the annual quantities of feed required, animals sold or died and with the use of the mineral lists used in the Netherlands' MINAS accounting system to establish the N, P, K contents for all kinds of feed, fodder and kinds of animals, it was possible to calculate the annual nutrient balance of each of the three alternatives. The environmental expert assessed for each of the three manure and smell processing systems the losses of the nutrients N and P into the air, water and the soil. The two environment indicators were selected as the most suitable for comparison. Those were volume (gr) losses of N/pig leached in the water and volume (gr) losses of N/pig to the soil inside the pig-house and from the manure.Animal welfareThe three pig-house options also differed in animal welfare conditions in terms of space per sow, per piglet, per fatting pigs, amount of straw on the floor and in terms of smelly air in the pig-house. To make comparison easier all these aspects were taken into account, combined and expressed in a relative percentage expressing the preference per alternative.EnergyAt that time in Hungary the reliability was low of the electricity supply especially in rural areas. That is why, the dependency on electricity was considered a criterion between the alternatives. The indicator for this criterion is the amount of KWH needed for each pig sold.

The modellingAll the data are entered in an Excel workbook that contains three groups of sheets: One group with the data on the three pig house models with different pig producing alternatives. The second group of sheets that make weighting possible of the four aims and of the different objectives. Such allowed the policy makers from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment together with representatives of the sector, to assess the impact and constraints of their respective Ministries' policies on pig sector development. Amongst the staff of the Ministry of Environment, this approach was much appreciated: Instead of only a usual restrictive approach to controlling BOD, COD and other polluters, this approach allowed them to provide a positive contribution in reaching a solution for a problem of public concern.The third group shows the ranking of the three alternative pig houses. All this information is put in an Excel Workbook. The contents of the workbook sheets is shown in the PDF file here on the left. The last pages of the PDF file show examples on how the changing in weights has an effect on the priority ranking of the fields to be demined. One can open this PDF file, by clicking on the button at the left. A click on the "Movie ON" buton shows in a movie the Exel sheets and the effects of weighting.. The Excel file also can be obtained. A click on the button opens a secured "PayPal" site where after having paid €10 for the file with Paypal or a credit card it will be possible in a "Click2Pay" site to download the file. In ConclusionIn the animal production sector, producers, consumers, environmental and animal welfare groups, each with their own wishes, concern and objectives, all lobby to influence a Government’s decision. This example of a decision model shows how, in the pig sector, these groups can interact in giving direction to that sector. How, at each side of the decision pyramid, experts and representatives of these groups can co-operate and work on their special areas of expertise and interest in developing alternative solutions for a sector and to arrive at estimates of costs and benefits of the alternatives. Doing this in the way shown, makes it possible for all the groups to contribute and to see and to argue the weight to be given to each of their objectives. These representatives can assess in a transparent way how and to what extent a weight given to specific goals and objectives effects the ranking of alternative solutions and the financial, environmental and animal welfare consequences.(Sentence too long and complicated I think, so I’ve broken it into two sentances) Culminating ultimately with the policy maker, who decides on how to give weight to the different goals with a better understanding of the financial and political consequences of his decision. In order to serve more interested groups and objectives, such as the concern for public health, the model can be extended with the addition of more goals, parameters and layers.

The choice structureThe aim of the pig production study was a pig production model most suitable in meeting the EU standards and for which the government could stimulate for promotion.The chart shows the 'Head' part of the decision. The aim 'the most suitable pig house that meets the EU standards' divides into four goals Economics, Environment, Animal Welfare and Energy. Two of them Economics and Environment have two objectives.

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