Fertility remains an issue on my pig unit and we have made some changes in gilt feeding to try to rectify this. We are now top dressing the gilt feed with an energy enhancer prior to service. It seems you can’t take shortcuts with sows or performance suffers.

Congratulations to Gordon McKen from Scottish Pig Producers who won the 2012 Farmers Weekly Awards Farm Adviser of the Year. Scottish Pig Producers market my pigs on behalf of Progressive Lean Pigs in Northern Ireland and Gordon does a professional job. Congratulations also to my neighbour James Millar who was a finalist in the Pig Farmer of the Year category – what a fantastic achievement for the Northern Ireland pig industry.

Recently a neighbouring producer and I met with my MEP, Diane Dodds and discussed the importation of illegal pigmeat which will be more available in Europe following the implementation of the Sow Welfare Directive on the 1 January 2013. Processers and retailers must be aware their policy on purchasing imported pigmeat must reflect this directive. We need a strong stance, as taken by the egg sector, so ,contact your MP and MEP and drive this point home.

I also highlighted how our rise in feed costs has far outstripped the corresponding rise in pig price. This differential cannot continue. Scarcity is coming, but it appears our retailers and processors won’t take action until this happens. Get a grip processors and retailers. You must support our industry rather than buying cheap, inferior pigmeat and allowing the Northern Ireland pig industry to slowly die in the process.

Andrew McCrea farms a 740-sow birth-to-bacon business and 150 beef cattle on 37ha. The pig business is a sow and weaner farm with four contract finishers. He produces 18,000 pigs a year to the British Quality-assured Red Tractor standard. Andrew is a DARD Focus Farmer and was Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2010.

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