12 April 2002

NPA warning to finishing pig farms

A SCHEME to boost arable incomes by finishing pigs using home-grown cereals comes with a health warning, says the National Pig Association.

The plan is the idea of East Yorks-based pig building specialist AM Warkup and argues that wheat growers can increase the value of home-grown grain by up to £25/t by diversifying into pig finishing and mixing their own feed.

Nick MacIvor, sales manager for the company, has produced figures showing that a fully-slatted finishing unit to take pigs from 30-105kg would cost £130/pig place. This can be written off over 10 years at £5/pig as long as the farm does not carry a large debt.

By using home-grown wheat in the finishing ration and with a pig price of 96p/kg, he claims that a unit would clear £10/pig.

NPA chairman Richard Longthorp is less convinced. "I dont want to be too critical, but both pig and arable farmers have more about them than to fall for that.

"The only responsible thing for me to do is to warn any potential pig farmers that you will not buy building space and join the rush to nirvana. There are some fundamental resource shortages in the industry, no matter how the figures stack up on paper."

But Mr MacIvor, although admitting his ultimate aim is to sell pig buildings, believes something must be done to stop the drain away from pork production, which has seen the average weekly pig kill fall by a third to just 200,000.

"We need to lift the output of the industry, but we need new sources of investment. Currently they are not coming from the pig industry, so we must attract other sectors.

"Arable farmers are struggling to make profits and traditionally they have fed produce to livestock and the economics makes good sense. One sector that is still making money from pigs is those producers using their own grain." &#42