15 November 1996

Pig finishing looks good

WE ARE beginning to get some early indications of the performance from our new Straw Flow finishing house. The building, built by A M Warkup from Driffield in East Yorkshire, was finished before harvest with the first pigs going in on July 30. Over the following five weeks the total of 36 pens housing 720 pigs were gradually filled and by Sept 16, we were starting to draw the first pigs for slaughter.

In a seven-week period to Oct 28 we marketed 505 bacon pigs from this house to Messrs Hargraves of Spalding, Lincs. The pigs averaged 102.2kg liveweight which, if killing out at 76%, gives a weight of 77.7kg dead weight at an average probe of 13.7mm.

Nicely fitting in

This fits in nicely with Hargraves contract Q grade which must fall within a specific weight range at a maximum probe of 14mm to command a 4p/kg premium over the Adjusted Eurospec Average (UK Data) or AESA price.

This is the first time that we have contracted our pigs even though we have used the services of Allied Livestock Marketing at Cranswick in East Yorkshire for many years. Having tested the market by sending our earlier heavier pigs to more than one abattoir we decided to take the advice of Paul Hoggard of ALM and commit 90% of our weekly production to contract. The remainder are sold on a weekly price to the highest bidder on our behalf by Mr Hoggard.

Deciding on the correct ration and level of nutrition has to date been a problem. That is because the genetics of our pigs are somewhat mixed at present as a result of the move from Cotswold Platinum to Gold gilts and hybrid boars to Large White.

Consequently we have managed only to hit Q grade with 71.5% of our production; a figure pig manager Jasper Renold will be working hard to improve over the following weeks. Although realising the limited statistical information on which to produce a report, we cannot help but be pleased with the early performance figures from the Straw Flow.

Daily growth rates appear to be about 867g a day, pigs are consuming 2.15kg of feed each a day giving a cost of liveweight gain of 41.65p/kg. Pigs sold from existing and less extensive accommodation are performing well too. Over a four-month period to the end of October they averaged 75.25kg dead weight. Daily growth rates were 639g a day, on a more expensive ration and with a lower intake produced a higher cost per liveweight gain.

All pigs sold out of the finishing herd over the past two months have averaged £103.89 a head net of marketing charges, at an average dead weight of 78.2kg or 132.8p/kg. That compares with the same period last year, when the average dead weight was 60kg and the price of 126p/kg returned us £76.07 a head.

The final cost of the new building was £127,219 or £176.70 a pig. The total included all electric and water services, automatic feeding, bulk bins and a scraper system as well as a concrete and sleeper walled midden area of 114 sq m and hardcore hardstanding at both ends of the building, a pig race, ramps and secure perimeter.

The figure was 8% over budget but included additional work and variations to the existing specification and could therefore be justified.

Our original pay-back period was estimated to be three years which is achievable but depends on our selling price which could change by nearly plus or minus £6000 for every 1p/kg fluctuation in selling prices.

Norfolk Horn sheep…a success story over the past 20 years.