Industry Focus

Outdoor Production

In rotational outdoor piggeries, the pigs are kept in paddocks, sometimes with open deep litter shelters or basic huts. The paddocks are rotated with a crop-forage-pasture phase. Although only a small proportion of the industry, this type of production system is generating increasing interest. These systems operate under site specific conditions and have different environmental risks than conventional and deep litter systems.

The following information has been developed by APL to provide support to existing and prospective outdoor production operators with guidance on issues such as site selection and land and nutrient management in order to achieve best practice environmental management.

The following fact sheets have recently (February 2018) been reviewed:

For information on the above please refer to the National Environmental Guidelines for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries (below).

New Outdoor Production Video Clips

As part of the recently completed Australian Pork Ltd “Outdoor Production Awareness” project, a series of short video clips is now available on the APL website. The clips, which were filmed at Western Plains Pork and Greta Valley Free Range Pork, are recommended for new outdoor producers or anyone thinking about starting an outdoor piggery. They cover:

  • Selecting a Good Site
  • Promoting Even Nutrient Distribution
  • Land Protection
  • Soil Testing

The clips provide information on the factors to consider when selecting a site for a rotational outdoor piggery, as well as the best management practices for operating an environmentally sustainable outdoor unit.

National Environmental Guidelines for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries

The National Environmental Guidelines for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries provide prospective and existing operators of Free Range (FR) and Outdoor Bred (OB) systems with information to size, site, design and manage rotational outdoor piggeries in a way that is sustainable and protects the community amenity and natural resources of an area.

The guidelines encapsulates a national approach to environmental management for rotational outdoor piggeries and incorporates up to date best practice and science as well as complementing the industry’s quality assurance program APIQ✓® FR and APIQ✓® OB.

It covers issues such as site selection, planning requirements, separation and buffer distances, pig accommodation and paddock facilities, nutrient budgeting, promoting more even distribution of manure nutrients, land and water protection measures, mortalities management, environmental risk assessment, monitoring and assessment of sustainability and nutrient management plans.

The guidelines provide a general framework for environmental management and can be used by decision makers and producers to address individual site requirements.

Due to the high demand  for the NEGROP, it was reprinted in late May 2016. This provided APL the opportunity to include some minor revisions that take into account the latest science and information relating to outdoor production. The changes include:

  • Alignment with the revised APIQ✓® definition of Outdoor Bred, Raised Indoors On Straw
  • Reference to the New Piggery manure and Effluent Management and Reuse Guidelines 2015
  • Alignment with the BMP booklet for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries 2015
  • On professional advice – removal of the definition of extensive to align with all planning schemes in Australia and remove confusion. APL’s consultants have advised they not aware of any commercial outdoor piggery that could meet the planning definition of extensive.
  • Alignment of CSIRO, DAF QLD science and rural water authority buffers to reduce the guideline from 100m to 30m buffers from waterways
  • Combine the three reuse areas into one. Buffers remain the same or are reduced in most instances.
  • Additional wording on vegetative filter strips and slope.
  • Alignment of incorrect referenced sections
  • Removal of phosphorus sorption capacity testing as most jurisdictions no longer allow this to be included in mass balance calculations.  It is also an expensive test.
  • Table 8.3 aligned and reduced to the 250m separation distance requirement for fresh bedding from rural dwellings.
  • Changed the references to the NEGP revised 2nd edition to latest edition as this is currently under review prior to industry consultation

The Guidelines are due for a full revision in 2018.

The electronic version is available here.

For a hard copy and further information contact Gemma Wyburn at or (02) 6270 8826.


Rotational Outdoor Piggeries –Electronic Environmental management Plan (EMP) Template

An EMP focuses on the general management of a whole farm, taking into account the environment and associated risks. It documents design features and management practices, identifies risks and mitigation strategies and documents monitoring plans to ensure impacts are minimised. An EMP can assist with day to day environmental management, demonstrate best practice to regulators and be a requirement for decision makers when developing or expanding a piggery.

APL have developed a user friendly electronic template to assist producers in developing their own EMP.  It is compatible with the National Environmental guidelines for piggeries (2010 revised) and rotational outdoor piggeries (2013). The EMP includes a site specific risk assessment and various other sections on topic such as nutrient monitoring.

Rotational Outdoor Piggeries EMP Template


Nutrient Balance Calculators

The nutrient balance calculator is an easy-to-use tools that will assist piggery operators to sustainably and manage paddock rotations for outdoor piggeries.   They will help farmers to better understand the quantities of nutrients deposited, and how to utilise these effectively in cropping systems.

The calculators are consistent with the newly-released APL “Piggery Manure & Effluent Management & Reuse Guidelines” (Tucker 2015) which are, in turn, based on the “National Environmental Guidelines for Piggeries” (Tucker et al. 2010) and the “National Environmental Guidelines for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries” (Tucker and O’Keefe 2013).

Nutrient Balance Calculator for Rotational Outdoor Piggeries


Best Management Practice (BMP) Booklets- Rotational Outdoor piggeries and the Environment.

This best management practice booklet provides the last information on the managing a rotational outdoor piggery to minimise potential impacts on the surrounding environment. It identifies potential environmental issues associated with outdoor piggeries and covers such topics as site selection, managing soil nutrient accumulation, removing nutrients, managing mortalities and site rehabilitation.

Rotational Outdoor BMP booklet