20 September 1996

Multi-site set-up caring for stock

makes easier

MANY of the breeding, rearing and finishing farms linked by BQP are owned by producers who have adapted breeder/finisher units to concentrate on one part of the production cycle within a multi-site system.

One of BQPs breeding farms is based at Iken farm, Woodbridge, Suffolk, where Hugh Waterer manages 1250 breeding outdoor sows in a radial system.

"Previously I operated a 150-sow breeder/weaner unit and we were stretched between different areas of the production cycle. Now we have a larger number of sows and can concentrate on reproductive performance and health of the piglet," says Mr Waterer.

Sows are divided into a herd of 250 gilts and two herds of 500, according to condition and parity. Arks are moved after each farrowing when bedding straw is burnt and arks turned over to let the sun kill bugs. Piglets are weaned at 28 days and transferred to nursery units.

Twenty miles north, Mr and Mrs Read have converted a 380-sow unit to a 3500 pig all-in, all-out nursery.

About 300 newly weaned pigs arrive at 7kg liveweight over a period of seven days from 10 BQP sites. Pigs are chosen from herds with the same disease profile. Existing buildings were converted to straw runs and kennels with ad lib feed hoppers. Pigs are housed for up to eight weeks and pens are cleaned and left empty for seven days before the next batch is brought in.

"Caring for the stock is far easier," say Linda Read. "There are no farrowings to assist at night and, with only one stage, stock problems encountered are not as varied and can be quickly recognised and treated.

"Everybody is able to cover any aspect of the job, whereas with a breeder/finisher unit one man is usually assigned to a certain stage of production. This makes it difficult for stockmen to cover for each other in emergencies," she says.

Previously Pat Felgate owned a 100-sow breeder finisher unit but now produces pigs at the end of the multi-site chain with 1200 pigs in two buildings. "We gradually cut back to 50 sows and then changed over to finishing for BQP, using capital freed by the sale of breeding sows to invest in the two new buildings," says Mr Felgate.

Pigs arrive at his finishing unit weighing 32kg and are housed 50 to a pen. These are then split down to 25 a pen and fed ad lib.

"The system allows us to finish pigs in batches with varying weight range according to the requirements of the buyer," he says. &#42

Top third performance of BQP nursery units and MLC recorded pigs



Costs kg lwg (p)33.235.9

Benefits between buildings on a nursery unit

all in cont

all outflow


daily gain (g/day)390500

mortality (%)4.01.7

cost/pig/kg gain39.0234.9

Top third performance of BQP finishing units and MLC recorded pigs



Growth rates (g/day)852747

Specialist breeder Hugh Waterer is now able to devote more time to piglet welfare and reproductive performance because piglets are taken from the site at 7kg to a nursery unit.

Pat Felgate converted a 100-sow breeder-finisher to a 1200-pig finisher unit using two buildings.

Linda and Andrew Read can concentrate on dealing with diseases specific to newly-weaned pigs, after converting their breeder/finisher unit.