Going up……gilts are loaded into the first of PICs new fleet of transporters. Designed to bring together welfare, technology and improved health and safety for drivers, the vehicles can carry up to 60 gilts on two decks. The transporter is fully insulated, with internal temperature control. Six sensors are linked to a computer monitoring conditions throughout the journey, alerting the driver to any changes in conditions. Individual compartments also have feed and water facilities.
Sow aggression work
FARROWING five sows in a community pen can help reduce sow aggression during mixing.
But surrogacy can cause management difficulties such as a sharp fall in body condition and delay onset of oestrus.
Research guided by ADAS Terringtons Jon Day and Steve Malkin as part of a two-year MAFF-funded welfare study aims to establish how piglets and sows perform in community lactation systems compared with traditional farrowing crates.
Researchers have already observed that sow aggression towards stockmen and towards other sows, when re-mixing post-weaning, was lower in community lactation groups where five sows were housed together. While these initial observations are encouraging, researchers also report several potentially negative aspects.
Some sows abandon their own litters or adopt a second. This can lead to an increase in demand for milk for suckling of additional piglets which, when left unchecked, can lead to rapid loss in body condition for some sows.
Piglet weight and health will be monitored along with sow condition and aggression. Condition loss can disrupt a sows return to heat. Any spread of oestrus can undermine the integrity of group farrowing systems to ease management, researchers add.
• GENUS has entered into a partnership with a local agricultural college to train the next generation of dairy herd managers.
The company is moving its 200-head MOET herd of high genetic merit dairy cows from its Northumbrian dairy unit, Bays Leap, to Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire. According to Genus, this will allow prospective herd managers to train on cows that will be commonly seen on dairy units in 10 years time.
• KINGSHAY Farming Trust has launched a new dairy costings service. Called Kingshay Dairy Manager, it covers many costs involved in milk production, including herd replacements and longevity for £13 a month, while a quota predictor, forage options calculator and budgeting program can be included for an additional £4.50 a month.
• FREE test kits to help identify the organism causing calf scour are available to producers via vets. Schering-Plough warns that identifying the organism responsible for scour rapidly is vital for effective control and to minimise potential losses.
• NATIONAL Office of Animal Health is urging producers who dispose of products, including sheep dips, on land, to register with the Environment Agency before the Apr 1 deadline to meet new groundwater legislation (Livestock, Jan 22).
Sheep tagging: MAFFback to drawing board
By James Garner
SHEEP tagging proposals are being re-drafted by MAFF having met strong opposition within the industry because of their impracticality.
With the first consultation period over, industry opposition has forced MAFF to seek ministers approval on another set of tagging proposals, before returning to consultation.
This means legislation is unlikely to be passed before MAFFs self-imposed March deadline, although MAFF is unable to say what its timetable will be.
According to NFU livestock advisor Carol Lloyd, legislation is unlikely to occur before summer and could be further delayed by tag manufacturers also having to gear-up for all numeric tagging in cattle.
But NSA chief executive John Thorley says that legislation may come in sooner. "The original aim was to have the legislation through by Apr 1, and even though MAFF is looking at it again, it may be through by May 1."
MAFFs original proposals went beyond the EU directive on recording sheep identification and movement, causing widespread opposition.
"Proposed domestic legislation requiring producers to record an animals holding of birth when it is moved is not an EU requirement," says Miss Lloyd.
"To comply with the EU directive you must be able to identify – rather than record – an animals holding of birth when its moved. Therefore, a simple paintmark system would save recording individual tags," she says.
MAFFs change of heart will be welcomed by sheep industry leaders who felt that proposals to record each lambs movements during its lifetime would incur intolerable amounts of paper-chasing for producers.
Despite trying to avoid unnecessary recording, NFU livestock chairman David Williams says that negotiators are aware of the consequences of non-compliance. This would leave UK producers open to a legal block on exports from member states, potentially putting up to 35% of sales at risk.
"Losing this trade would be the final nail in the coffin for the sheep industry. Although export markets should not be jeopardised, we feel legislation should go no further than it has to."
Mr Williams says that negotiations must create a simple, easy-to-use scheme. MAFFs original proposals would have caused problems, says Mr Williams.
"For a store lamb finisher the extra work load required from additional recording would be immense. We want to avoid more paperwork where possible."
However, further cost to sheep farmers is unavoidable with flock identification certain to occur. This means tagging all lambs before they leave their holding of birth.
Each tag will cost 12-16p/tag, with additional labour costs for inserting them. This is a large cost to producers at a time when they cant afford it, he says.
According to Miss Lloyd, other concerns exist, as likely proposals will include the UK prefix before the flocks identifying number. This would affect producers who have joined the NFU voluntary scheme which has advised producers not to include the UK prefix on tags.
The NFU is seeking a derogation to cover this. "This would include those who have participated in the voluntary scheme, as well as pedigree breeders who use different ear number identifications according to breed society rules," says Miss Lloyd.
• Strong opposition.
• MAFF reconsidering.
• Less paperwork?
Entire lamb guide
A NEW booklet, Rearing Entire Male Lambs, is now available from the Meat and Livestock Commission. Covering all aspects of finishing entire lambs, the booklet is free. To obtain a copy, contact Lindsey Tapp (01908-844271).