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"Pleasantly surprised that it 's going so well "

Klaus Wendell (DE)

Klaus Wendell is pleasantly surprised that group housing for his 500 sows, combined with the Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding Stations, is going so well. "I had expected it to be a lot more problematic, " he says, reflecting on the transition which took place on his farm back in 2007.


But it was not all his own doing, as the farmer from the village of Scheggerott in North Germany, right next to the Danish border, is quick to explain. Now 65, he is looking forward to a more relaxed life, and is happy to hand the farm over to his daughter and son-in-law.



He grew up on a farm that kept sows in boxes. "I think that 's a good system from a financial and technical point of view, " says Wendell. "But you can 't do that any more, and group housing is also a good system in practice: it 's relaxing and good for the sows. "


There are 500 sows on the farm, the herd having been increased to that number in 2007. The Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding Stations work very well here. But they don 't replace the expertise of the pig farmer, or in Wendell 's case, his most important worker. "The eye of the master fattens his cattle, " Wendell explains, quoting the well-known saying.

Working on the farm in Scheggerott is "Master " Sönke Jansen. He has been working there for 38 years and is happy to show us how the pigs are housed on the farm. We start with the young sows running around outdoors. They are also out here in the snow in winter, even though there is plenty of shelter available in pens with straw. "It 's good for the young animals ' development and resistance, " Jansen explains.

During the guided tour, in which he moves like a kind of "swineherd " through the sows ambling peacefully about or lying on the ground, Jansen mentions a major benefit of feeding stations: the ability to feed individual sows. "We can feed them exactly according to the pre-set feed curve. We only need to intervene with sows the computer flags up as different, " says Jansen. On the screen in the shed he soon has a complete picture of what all the sows are doing and have been doing. It 's easy " but it doesn 't make the pig man obsolete. "Jansen is a specialist who can tell exactly what 's going on with a sow by looking at her " technology or no technology, " Wendell adds.


A major advantage of the Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding Stations is that they make group housing possible and affordable, he says. This can also improve the image of the pig farmer. As elsewhere, locals in this part of Germany are becoming more critical about developments in large-scale pig farming. "People who visit our sheds here are often surprised to see how relaxed and happy our sows are, " Wendell says.

The introduction of the Nedap feeding stations on the farm coincided with a major expansion from 300 to 500 sows. Their technical results also took a major step forward as a result. Wendell: "The more you specialise, the better your results can be. Jansen has been focusing exclusively on our sow business since 2007, and you can tell. " Meanwhile the farm has been achieving nice figures with a returner percentage of less than 10% and about 28 weaned piglets per sow per year.    


Based on their positive experience, both Jansen and Wendell would recommend the Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding Stations if colleagues were to ask them which feeding system they prefer for group housing. "This system works very well indeed and means that you can always be at the forefront. That 's our vision: we believe that the future of pig farming lies in ever fewer farms that are ever larger in size. That 's the trend and we want to be part of it. So we plan to continue to use technical innovations to enable us to take better care of more animals and make our business more profitable at the same time, " says Wendell.          


Self-sufficient in a big way

Klaus Wendell 's farm is not actually his, as he explains when we ask him about size and strategy. Its official name is Buchenau/Wendell KG. The first half of the name is his son-in-law 's. He and Wendell 's daughter own the farm together. The business actually consists of two farms: Buchenau 's original farm is on the Warleberg estate, about 55 km south of Scheggerott.

In addition to the sow business with 500 animals, the company has pens for 5,000 finishers. So the pig business is completely self-contained. Animals are hardly ever brought in from outside. They even breed their own sows.



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