26 April 1996

Consultant says alternatives cost more

ALTERNATIVES to stalls and tethers will increase production costs by 2p to 5.5p/kg carcass over slurry-based units with stalls, claims independent pig consultant Mick Evans.

Speaking at PICs annual veterinary conference in Coventry, Warks, Mr Evans said running costs such as those for straw had to be taken into account when choosing a replacement system for stalls. That was necessary, as some systems would use 800kg a sow a year.

"Stalls help keep pigs warm by the overall load of body weight in a building, which results in good thermal efficiency. Therefore, replacement systems should include adequate insulation to keep straw costs down," he said. He straw urged producers to consider systems to meet the specific requirements of their unit, take into account the overall financial state of the business and to consider the day-to-day running of the system. "Some degree of flexibility should also be included in the conversion plan so future changes in sow numbers can be accommodated," he said.

"Speed at which different pigs eat and the sows feed requirement vary tremendously. Daily feed allowance of a pig weighing 120kg is about 29.5MJ/kg DE rising to 38.5MJ/kg DE at 320kg liveweight.

"Any replacement system should allow accurate control of feed intake, daily inspection and routine management. This is as well as easy identification of individuals and movement of pigs around the system," said Mr Evans.

Because of that there was a move away from dump, spin and floor feeders, which could not cater for the individual pig, even though they were simple and comparatively cheap to install, and a move towards trickle feeding, he added. &#42


Costs of alternative housing

Installation (£)Straw useProduction

NewConv(kg a (p/kg carcass)

sow a year)NewConv

Kennel/yard feeders4501355005.42.4

Cubicles4501355005.42.4

ESF3501008005.12.8

Dump/spin/hand (dyn)2801008004.52.8

Dump/spin/hand (small)3801205004.72.3

Trickle3851405004.82.5