Niels Aage Arve, Krannestrup, Denmark

Publication date: August 2018 | Theme: Meat quality

Challenges: Innovations in the supply chain

Producer Niels Aage Arve receives a price premium by marketing his pork under the ‘Heart Pig’ welfare brand. The higher price covers the additional costs of producing his pigs to the specific standards of the brand (according to calculations by SEGES).

Niels Aage Arve provides loose housing for all sows, except for a few days at farrowing.


The extra production costs, described below, are covered by the higher market price, of about €0.17 per kilo. There is also potential for greater long-term stability for the business, from marketing its product through a well-defined supply chain and under a clearly differentiated added-value brand, for which consumer demand appears to be growing.

Innovation in practice

Key requirements of the Heart Pig brand are that:

  • Tail docking is not performed in the herd.
  • The rearing and finishing pigs have 10% more space than normal.
  • All animals must have continuous access to straw. Straw racks are used and they have found a key advantage of using racks compared with straw on the floor, this being that straw is accessible all the time.
  • Sows are in loose housing for the entire cycle, except for a few days at farrowing.

Cost of production is higher as a result. The extra space requirement increases fixed costs, sows have a higher feed consumption due to their movement in loose housing systems and there is greater energy use to heat larger pens (33 kWh/sow). In the breeding phase, a slightly higher pre-weaning mortality may be expected (+2.5%) and higher sow mortality (+1.5%), which requires recruitment of extra gilts.

Straw racks and significant quantities of straw (160 kg/sow/year and 21 gr/pig/day) need to be purchased and the labour time to provide extra straw is more than 30% higher. Based on these assumptions, the production costs are 7.9% higher, rising from €1.41/kg up to €1.52/kg slaughter weight.

All pigs have access to straw via straw racks.

Niels’ team.

More about this best practice

To access more information, contact RPIG (Denmark): Claus Hansen