5th October 2023

Improving sustainability on pig farms with enhanced ventilation and housing

With an increasing push towards Net Zero and environmental sustainability in agriculture, farmers are being urged to look at the ventilation within their pig housing for a cost-effective solution to increase their productivity and reduce disease.

Why should pig farmers look at improving their sustainability?

Mike Bryan, area sales manager at Galebreaker, explains that although the pig industry has been at the forefront of the race towards sustainability, there are still some simple steps that most pig farms can take to improve their sustainability.

“A lot of work has gone into increasing the sustainability of pig systems within the UK, with a 40% reduction in carbon footprint on British pig farms over the last 20 years,[1]” he says. “Although pork is much more environmentally sustainable than beef, every kilo of pork produced still releases 761kg of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.[2]

“Margins have also been tight in recent years[3] so it’s amazing that farmers have been able to make these positive changes while being under pressure to remain financially viable.”  As well as government grants that are helping to push farmers towards net zero, changes in consumer attitudes are also helping to push British agriculture towards a greener future.

“Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, with 46% of people wanting to buy from brands who are carbon neutral in the future,[4] which opens up a huge new premium market,” he says.

How can pig farmers increase their sustainability?

It’s important to understand that there are many facets to environment sustainability, and that increasing operational excellence can go a long way to going green.

“One way pig farmers can improve their green credentials is to increase their efficiency, because more efficiently raised pigs require less input in terms of feed and energy” he explains.

Weather extremes are becoming more common, with heatwaves and cold snaps happening almost every year. “Making sure your buildings are properly weather-proofed will reduce temperature fluctuations inside the housing as the weather outside changes,” he says.

“Not only will this keep your pigs at the optimum temperature for their comfort, but it will also reduce of energy needed to heat and cool the unit.”

To read more about weather proofing your pig housing, click here.


The power of fresh air

Disease can cause significant losses within the pig industry, as it’s estimated to cost the sector £858m a year, so improving animal health is a key step in improving environmental sustainability.

Poor air quality in pig housing has long been associated with reduced growth and piglet survival,[5] so maintaining good levels of ventilation is a cost-effective way to improve the environmental sustainability in pig production.

“One of the main takeaways from the pandemic was the importance of fresh air in good health, with several studies showing that fresh air can kill germs, like E. coli,” he says.[6]

“This germicidal “open-air factor” varies greatly depending on the air source and how clean the air is indoors, however, it can be increased by improving the ventilation to rapidly replace the dirty air with fresh air.”

Mr Bryan is keen to stress that fans often aren’t enough to induce the cleansing effect of fresh air, instead Galebreaker promote the principle of natural ventilation before mechanical ventilation.  “Most of the time, the UK has a windspeed of 1m/s, which is enough to adequately ventilate pig housing and, best of all, it’s free and doesn’t contribute to global warming,” he says.

“Galebreaker has some great automated door and side curtain systems that allow for variable ventilation while offering protection from the elements.

“The VVS Side Curtain System utilises an automatic control system to open and close the curtains, depending on temperature, wind speed, wind direction and rain sensors. Translucent, solid fabric allows light transmission into the building, while also reducing draughts and rain when closed.

“If you would prefer a manual option to further cut down the energy used by the system, Rollerscreens provide ventilation, while still giving a high standard of protection against the elements.”

If you’d like advice on you could use ventilation solutions to increase productivity in your pig unit, contact the Galebreaker team here.


Galebreaker VVS system side curtain system State of the art pig unit at Plumpton College, Sussex


[1] https://www.feednavigator.com/Article/2021/02/23/Study-shows-big-reduction-in-carbon-footprint-of-British-pig-farms-with-feed-playing-a-key-role

[2] Pig production and the potential to reduce its environmental impact (nutrinews.com)

[3] https://www.tridge.com/news/british-pig-farmers-again-achieve-positive-margin-#:~:text=British%20pig%20farmers%20achieved%20an%20average%20margin%20of,of%202020%2C%20they%20have%20achieved%20a%20positive%20margin.

[4] European consumers reluctant to change eating habits for greener food system (foodnavigator.com)

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1767997/