Richard Longthorp farms
720ha (1800 acres)
near Howden, East Yorks.
As well as arable, the
farm has 2500 outdoor
breeding sows with progeny
taken through to bacon. He
is also chairman of the
National Pig Association
OUR new gilts arrived in the first week of August and I am sure Emma, our manager, will be pleased to have some pigs to work with at last instead of a pressure washer and knapsack sprayer.
But receiving 945 gilts in one hit meant a long day, with the team working until 9.30pm. Having made the decision to go down the batch farrowing route, we then had to decide how best to synchronise heats of the different batches.
The choice was between using Regumate (altrenogest), at a not insignificant cost and staff input to ensure correct dosage and intake, or trying to achieve synchronisation through nutritional means. After much discussion, with very polarised viewpoints, we opted for the nutritional route, but with the ability to use Regumate to help us out in problematic situations.
We held our annual staff night out at the end of July and, much to the chagrin of the pig lads, the arable team won the bowling competition yet again. The usual good night was had by all, but made even more satisfying this year by the appearance of our longest serving member of staff, Yogi, who was recently discharged from hospital after major surgery.
With prices in apparent free fall, confusion reigns again. Multiples and processors tell us there is no demand, yet local butchers are still buying the same number of pigs as some weeks ago. Is it only the customers of multiple retailers that head off to Spain for the summer?
The sooner we can get some transparency in the supply chain the better. The apparent lack of demand for pigmeat is of big concern to the whole industry. If people will not buy pork at current prices, when will they?
Last, I must mention the weather. Having only received 225mm (9in) of rain during the first six months of 2002, we have already received 125mm (5in) in the first five weeks of the second half year. Not good for outdoor pigkeeping, even in summer. *
Richard Longthorp hopes to synchronise farrowing of batches of replacements using nutritional rather than pharmaceutical means.