26 March 1999

Weigh up any change in performance

USE of weigh facilities between each stage of the rearing and finishing programme provides valuable information, giving an early indication of dips in performance.

According to Suffolk-based pig consultant Geoff Fielding – who advises Mr Brown – weighing is essential on all units, but particularly where home mixed feed, which can vary in quality, is being prepared.

By-product quality can change between batches and although this can be taken into account when formulating feeds, it is often only regular weighing that allows a precise measure of its effect on growth rate and feed efficiency, says Mr Fielding.

Likewise, where pig health reduces performance regular weighing can support visual observations such as looking for scours to give an early indication when problems are occurring, he adds.

"As both Simon Brown and Robert Beckett have discovered, regular weighing can identify small changes in weight which cannot be noticed by the naked eye," he says.

It is essential to weigh pigs leaving the farm to keep a check on killing out % and to identify differences between abattoirs, Mr Fielding says.

Weigh farm trailers and/or hauliers vehicles both unladen and loaded then calculate pig weight leaving the farm. Divide that by total carcass weight recorded by abattoirs to check killing out %.

Where these differ between batches – even when only by a small % change – check records to ensure numbers sent and received tally as this could account for a difference, he adds. &#42