19 May 1995

JSR confident that best will survive

Replacing sow stalls and tethers could prove ruinous for many hard-pressed producers. We canvassed opinion at the two-day event

FIGHTING talk came from John Rymer, chairman of JSR Healthbred, Southburn, East Yorks. The company now has 6000 nucleus and multiplier sows and a financial interest in a further 15,000 sows at home and abroad.

Mr Rymer figures the sow stall replacement bill for 40-50% of UK producers is only one facet of the total refurbishment costs facing the industry after a run of lean years. But he is confident the efficient will survive and plug the gap left by those forced out of a highly competitive industry.

"Pig producers with large arable interests are in the strongest position and always have been. They have the benefits of alternative income, the opportunity to mill-and-mix their own rations, add value to cereals and are also big enough to justify wet-feed pipeline plants at the finishing stage to exploit by-product ingredients," said Mr Rymer. He also points out that farmers with existing clear-span, general purpose buildings available can convert them to house sows for under £200 a head, compared with about £400 a head needed for a brand new unit. This can cushion the effect of sow stall legislation.

"Efficient arable/pig producers operating on sufficient scale are already contemplating expansion despite the hard times we have come through. Opportunities also exist for the smaller-scale but highly efficient pig specialists," said Mr Rymer. The latter would probably be forced to link operations, with some concentrating on breeding, others weaner rearing, or as finishing specialists.