To us, sustainability means focusing on animal welfare and the environment. This approach sets us apart from 'single issue' initiatives that only cover one subject. Our innovative approach ensures that our pigs are healthier and have a good life from the very start, when the sow is pregnant with her piglets. And all the farmers affiliated with us have clever ways of saving energy and, where possible, even generate their own energy. Right now, our farmers are making energy savings of over 40%.
Our pig breeders are passionate about their pigs being healthy and having a good life. Since a healthy, relaxed mother will produce healthy p iglets, it all starts with the sow. For example, we have specific standards about how long piglets stay with their mothers. This causes less stress for the mother and has a proven positive effect on the health of the piglet.
Our animals live in well-equipped sties with distractions to stop them getting bored, a clear day and night rhythm, good ventilation, quality feed and healthy water. The Netherlands is leading the way in all of the above, and our pig breeders go even further.
The health of the pig is an essential component of its welfare. Our pigs are medically monitored by a regular vet who knows the farmer and the animals. And in 2010, several farms started a project to reduce antibiotics, which has already resulted in a 90% drop in antibiotic use.
How you treat an animal also affects its welfare. And this has measurable effects on the quality and shelf life of the end product. Which is why we don't transport our pigs over long distances and we invest in the latest livestock vehicles. We even have a pig whisperer, who trains staff in how to treat the animals. This entire process is continuously monitored by CCTV.
All the farms affiliated with us have clever ways of saving energy and, where possible, even generate their own energy. Right now, our farmers are making energy savings of over 40% on their farms. This is already considerable progress, and the goal is to create an energy-neutral pig farm by 2016. To maintain a healthy living environment in and around the farm, limiting emissions is also crucial. We've set clear goals to reduce nitrogen and phosphate emissions.
Sustainable animal feed also contributes to a better environment. There are no undesirable ingredients in sustainable animal feed and we set strict standards on copper and zinc levels in the feed. After all: what doesn't go in, doesn't have to come out into the environment. Further, much of the pigs' diet consists of quality waste products from the food industry – potato peelings from manufacturers of crisps and chips, and whey from cheese factories.
Lastly, no part of our pigs goes to waste. Once all the meat destined for meat products has been removed from the pig, lots of different things can be made from what remains, like the bones and the skin. Raw materials from pigs are used in medicines, sweets, glue, paper, and even microelectronics – we couldn't do without them.