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Report: "La Bonita" Farm, Colombia

La Bonita farm is situated between tropical mountains at an altitude of 2000 m, giving it a high health status. During our visit they shared with us the management routines of the farm and they showed us the facilities, which included an interesting weaning feeder.

This article is the first in a series of articles and interviews that will take us on a journey to discover different farms and production systems around the world. In this series, we are not seeking to analyze these farms but rather to show them just as they are in order to discover differences between production systems at a global level.

During this visit in particular we were in one of the greatest areas of pig production in Colombia. Specifically the farm is located in Santo Domingo, in the northeast Antioquia region, in the province of Antioquia.

The name of the farm we visited is La Bonita or "beautiful" in Spanish which is a fitting name considering the setting where the farm is nestled- in the middle of the tropical mountains, at an altitude of 2000 meters and which can be reached only by winding curves up a mountain pass. The farm is 65 kilometers from Medellín, but it takes almost two hours to get there due to its unique location, which gives it a high health status.

The farm belongs to the company Agrocarnes "La Bonita" and works with Hypor genetics, distributed by Porcigenes S.A. which is the exclusive distributor of Hypor in Colombia and whom we have to thank for their help.

During the visit, we were accompanied by Hector Marín (farm manager), Andrés Felipe Vallejo (commercial technician at Porcigenes S.A.) Nelson Adrian Restrepo (Hypor key account manager in Latin America) and Carlos Martins (Hypor technical department).

Hector Marín (farm manager), Andrés Felipe Vallejo (commercial technician of Porcigenes S.A.) Nelson Adrian Restrepo (Hypor key account manager in Latin America) and Carlos Martins (Hypor technical department) accompany us during the visit.

Hector Marín (farm manager), Andrés Felipe Vallejo (commercial technician of Porcigenes S.A.) Nelson Adrian Restrepo (Hypor key account manager in Latin America) and Carlos Martins (Hypor technical department) accompany us during the visit.

La Bonita is a small farm, built 4 years ago for 140 productive females with a design in place to double its capacity in the future. Together with another farm of 100 productive females the current total population of the company is 250 sows.

The operation has a Site 1 and a Site 2 divided into three distinct buildings:

  • Gestation barn - 100% in crates
  • Farrowing barn with 3 rooms of 12 crates, to match the number of target farrowings per batch
  • Nursery unit or Site 2 with 4 rooms with 144 places each.

Two people work continuously on the farm to produce piglets 10 weeks of age. The piglets spend 3 weeks in lactation and 7 weeks in Site 2.

The water used on the operation comes from the very same nearby streams. The water is pumped to a tank where it is treated with just chlorine. All the feed used comes from an external feed company.

Since the introduction of new genetics to the farm, the farm's production numbers have improved year after year and have reached very exciting levels:

% Farrowing rate 89.6
Total born 13.2
Live born 12.1
% Stillborn 3.89
Pre-weaning mortality 7.9
Weaned pigs per litter 11.11
Litters/sow/year 2.55
Pigs weaned/sow/year 28.3
Weaning weight (kg) 6.57
Kg weaned/sow/year 185.9

General management of the operation

La Bonita uses a 2 week batch farrowing system, where the replacement animals are external and there is a monthly arrival of animals - at about 70 kg and 4 months of age at arrival.

Area for the boars and where the replacement animals enter the farm

Area for the boars and where the replacement animals enter the farm

The females get acclimatize to the farm in pens until they are 220 days old, when they are taken to the gestation barn so the gilts get used to the crates during a heat cycle, they are heat checked and they are serviced using conventional artificial insemination on the following estrous when they are around 240 days of age.

Gestation stalls with feed dispensers and a curtain type ventilation system

Gestation stalls with feed dispensers and a curtain type ventilation system

Gestation takes place 100% in stalls, feeding twice a day until their entry into the farrowing rooms where, after farrowing ,they have 21 days of lactation.

Using crates in the first week of farrowing helps with optimal control of the sow's environment as well as the pig's environment.

Using crates in the first week of farrowing helps with optimal control of the sow's environment as well as the pig's environment.

Feeding in lactation is done manually with up to 8 feedings per day, which maximizes the sow's feed consumption and allows the farm to achieve an average piglet weaning weight of 6.5 kilos.

Good growth in lactation and at weaning

Good growth in lactation and at weaning

After weaning, each group of animals is moved to Site 2 or the nursery where they remain for 7 weeks until they reach an average weight of 30 kilos. From here they are sent to the company's own growing facilities to produce 115 kg immunocastrated pigs.

Feed management of newly weaned pigs is key to their future development

Feed management of newly weaned pigs is key to their future development

In this phase we were surprised by the type of feeder used. As we can see in the photo it is handmade by the farm staff.

The hand-made feeders the farm uses.

The hand-made feeders the farm uses.

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