Dennis Bridgeford farms
50ha (125 acres) at Petley
Farm in Easter Ross, north
of Inverness. The farm
comprises a 480-sow
indoor unit producing 95kg
pigs for one outlet and 85kg
pigs for a local abattoir. A
further 320 sows are run
outdoors. Land not used for
pigs grows spring barley
THE loss of our part-time farrowing attendant caused more problems than I could have imagined because the first week after she left coincided with a weeks holiday for the other farrowing attendant.
The result was that yours truly had to get organised. To say I was running about like the proverbial blue fly was putting it mildly. I am now convinced that it pays to have staff in attendance just to observe and react during the main farrowing day. More so for us when this coincides with weaning day. To employ a person for only one day/week is going to prove almost impossible.
The extension of our wet feeding is up and running with initial results encouraging. The builders did a tremendous job, with a first class finish. Its brought a redundant building back into production. We will monitor the first batch with interest, not that I need convincing. Hopefully the extra time on wet feed will help with the switch to dry feed for the final weeks prior to slaughter.
In the middle of all this work, I managed one day in Northern Ireland, invited by our creep feed supplier. The main part of the visit was to the pig research farm at Hillsborough. It was gratifying to see some basic research underway that has relevance to producers.
The real eye opener was their calculation on the difference between cost of producing the most efficient pig in their unit and the least efficient. This amounted to more than £25/pig; a frightening amount.
With prices beginning to rise again to levels they should never have left, the smile is beginning to reappear. But, Im concerned that pig producers cannot continue with prices just on or about break even. We must generate profits somewhere along the line to return the industry to an even keel.
With the next batch of legislation about to hit us with more costs, you cant help feeling we are in for another tough year. On this rather worrying note, I would like to wish my fellow long suffering pig farmers compliments of the season. With the onset of the New Year, lets hope all sectors of farming have a happier and less stressful year. *
Short of farrowing staff, its been back to basics for Dennis Bridgeford recently. Finding someone for one day a week is proving difficult.