Anaerobic plans proceed for Andrew McCrea

I like my pigs, but a much deeper affection was demonstrated by Derek and Catherine Hall at their recent wedding. Derek operates a large birth-to-bacon pig unit on the edge of Belfast, which is the top performing unit on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring system, achieving 30.3 pigs weaned per sow per year.

Not only did the newlyweds forego a wedding list in favour of guests donating to their charity ‘Stand by Me Pigs for Burma’, pigs also featured heavily at their wedding. They had pig-styled table centrepieces, two pigs on spits supplying delicious “pork in a bap” for evening guests and even pig-shaped shortbread. Truly this is a match made in pig heaven! Best wishes to them both as they start out in married life together.

I have now received full planning approval for a 500kw anaerobic digester on my unit. I have also applied for the Biomass processing challenge fund; a grant from DARD to assist with the incorporation of a digester onto my farm. The hurdles seem huge at this stage but we have been successful in obtaining a Supply Chain Development Programme grant to provide a facilitator to assist with the process as well as support towards getting the project of the ground. Due to the scale of such a project, any assistance and support is very welcome at this stage.

It is good to hear that Vion has found a buyer for its pig processing arm. Let’s hope it can whip the mainland business into shape and get its whole supply chain more efficient from farm to plate as well as supporting those member states that are meeting the new Pig Welfare Legislation.

Andrew McCrea farms a 740-sow birth-to-bacon business and 150 beef cattle on 37ha. The pig business is a sow and weaner farm with four contract finishers. He produces 18,000 pigs a year to the British Quality-assured Red Tractor standard. Andrew is a DARD Focus Farmer and was 2010 Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year.

More on this topic

Read more on Andrew McCrea

Read more from all our livestock Farmer Focus writers

See more