Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pigs Waterslide and an Awesome Farmer

A Dutch farmer set up a pig waterslide, took some pictures, and posted it to social media. The result is that I am now getting well meaning questions and suggestions for my farm. And more than one copy of the original post.

Here is the link








People find this idea hilarious, funny, and entertaining. And it is. What a great way to help pigs play!

I was curious about the details of this farm so I asked some social media friends to help me track down more information. Given the unknowns of culture and language the best thing I found was this link to the farm's web page. Pig Palace


Please click the Pig Palace link above to get an idea of how sophisticated this farmer's approach to farming is. It is quite impressive. It shows a person looking forward to the challenges that he faces.

With all this as background, I would like to make a few observations from my viewpoint as a U.S. producer who is also deeply involved in looking forward for solutions to challenges.

I am unsure a pig would volunteer to go down this slide. My experience is that a pig will hesitate and test out a new surface/material pretty well before stepping on it. If they are afraid of losing their footing they will refuse to advance. Getting pigs to step off the wooden ramp (pictured below) onto the cement floor and vice versa often requires patience and neither is a slick waterslide.

In any event it is pretty dangerous for an animal with hooves (cartilage for feet) to be sliding around. This is one reason we put shoes on horses and the internationally recognized animal behaviorist Temple Grandin has argued against slick floors in facilities her entire career. As a point of reference, this loading ramp on my farm would be written up by the National Pork Board's Sight Assessment Auditor because there are missing treads/cleats.




I will simply point out that the key issues with hog wallows (mud holes) are odor, flies, environmental degradation, and diseases (both human and porcine) and move on. Who could argue with the obvious fun of a mud hole?

So I am not particularly enamored with this waterslide as a production strategy, ........ but as a marketing investment I think it is awesome.

The Netherlands/Holland/the Dutch are members of the EU (European Union) and are struggling to find ways to produce food affordably under some very stringent animal welfare and environmental regulations. Many of the EU nations just simply are not going to be able to comply. Compliance takes money and that means debt, and parts of Europe are in a terrible bind in that regard.

This forward thinking farmer appears to be running a very transparent and public friendly enterprise utilizing the latest and greatest technology to meet these challenges. In the back pasture he is showing how much he loves his animals by giving them a water slide! What an awesome farmer. You only need to read a few comments to realize how much good favor he has bought with the public. I can only stand in admiration of the strategy. Well done.

Maybe someone should open a large scale commercial farm that is accessible to the public in the U.S.......and add a waterslide? I will have to suggest it to my friends at the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure.  The future of farming may lie in this kind of forward thinking marketing and public transparency.

4 comments:

  1. This is such an awesome idea! I read the article, but I was wondering if anyone thought this could hurt the animal's welfare? I'm not sure if that was touched enough.

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  2. This is a really interesting PR technique. When I first read the article I thought wow that is a cool way to keep many animal activist off a farmers back. I worked at a Zoo and we created games and activities to "enrich" the lives of the animals living there, and gave it to the animals during public education hours to show people that they are not just living in a cage 24/7. Again, a great PR strategy for this farmer that could be used in the states.

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  3. Oh, how funny. I'm glad you brought up the safety issue and pigs' resistance to new flooring, but what a funny concept and photos. I actually spent (too) many years doing marketing for the waterpark industry before switching to work for my husband's family business selling hog feeders. Such a collision of worlds!

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  4. This is awesome! i love the idea, and i hope this works out, as i too hate seeing animals in their pen's all the time. they need freedom.

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