Case study: Capitalise on familiarity when moving and loading pigs

Find out how a simple change to the way pigs are moved and loaded saved over 40 hours over the course of a year.

Back to: Lean management case studies in the pork sector

The problem

The unit: indoor farrow-to-finish unit with more than 1,000 sows across a mulit-site operation.

Finisher pigs are sorted into groups of bacon-weight pigs and loaded onto trailers. The finisher pens have two gates: one that can be closed off to allow staff to scrap the central dunging passage, and one at the rear used to sort the pigs.

Before the waste walk, pigs were pulled from their pens through a rear-access gate into a yard for loading. The sorting and loading process took a team of three staff approximately two hours to complete each time, as pigs were hesitant to exit via the rear of the pens.

The solution

Following the waste walk and discussion, the team decided to try sorting pigs through the internal gates into the central dunging passage that they are more familiar with, instead of through the rear gates.

The result was noticeable straightaway, with pigs being less stressed and hesitant and easier to sort and load.

The costs

No cost: This improvement only required a change in practice, rather than any investment.

The benefits

The time taken to complete the task fell from 1 hour 40 minutes to 20 minutes.

The estimated savings are:

  • 1 hour 40 minutes per staff member, or five hours in total across the team of three, each time pigs are loaded
  • The task is repeated twice every three months (first and third draw), which equates to 40 hours saved over the course of a year
  • Total costs saved in a year through reduced labour is approximately £400 (assuming £10 per hour wage)

The most significant difference for staff was that the task was notably shorter and less stressful, which freed up time to complete other important tasks.

The pigs were also less stressed.