The balcony system, also referred to as a two-level pen or plateau can be used commercially for both weaner and finisher pigs. This system is already being used in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Ireland and some farms in the UK.
The system was developed as a way to increase space allowance for pigs, improving welfare and providing functional zones within a pen. This includes areas for lying, exploring and dunging. The Dutch specification has been developed over a period of 10 years by researchers, equipment companies, farmers, governmental representation and the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals to create an optimal design.
In the Netherlands, the system is recognised as a higher welfare system and is awarded two ‘Beter Leven’ (Better Life) stars. Although there are known continental and UK suppliers of the equipment, assurance schemes should be consulted before implementing on farm to ensure they are compliant.