1 September 2000

Pig scheme hiccup

DESPITE first pigs entering the pig welfare disposal scheme this week, a backlog of eligible pigs and failure by MAFF to agree a compensation deal means substantial numbers of pigs beyond marketing weight could be held on farm.

But signs that compensation will be agreed are positive and producers should be confident about forwarding pigs into the scheme, according to NPA spokesman Hugh Crabtree.

However, it will take time to dispose of the estimated 150,000 pigs beyond marketable weight in surveillance areas. And no firm commitment on compensation may also dissuade producers from going ahead with the scheme. Writing on the NPA web-site, MLC pig technical manager Pinder Gill has some tips for producers with excess numbers of animals on farm.

"When you havent got enough feed hoppers, anything that will make a trough and avoid wastage is worth doing. In this situation, feeding four or five times a day is better than twice and will help keep batches of pigs even. When forced into feeding on straw, use at least a 5mm pellet."

Some may have no option but to move pigs outside and should be aware of time and cost saving measures, says Dr Gill. "Pick a well-drained site with a gentle slope and start pigs at the bottom so they can move to higher ground when pens are moved. Position feeders so they can be easily filled from outside and ensure that there is shade for pigs as they are susceptible to sunburn."

Producers requiring information about the disposal scheme should contact the intervention board helpline (0191-2265840).