Andrew McCrea is busy number crunching

I’ve been using a great little program designed by DARD to calculate food conversion, growth rate and cost/kg liveweight gain for finishing pigs in my herd.

Weaners are weighed on entry to our four contract finisher farms and following slaughter – deadweights are gathered for each batch using PiGIS (the Northern Ireland Pig Grading Information System). All meal deliveries are also recorded accurately. The program does all the analysis. With a little bit more number crunching I will be able to determine the true profitability, or lack of it, on each farm. I should also be able to determine the most profitable slaughter weight for each farm, which will also be influenced by my grading results.

Slaughter weight is very interesting and we recently looked at the effect supplying overweight pigs had on our returns. In Northern Ireland, any carcass weight supplied over the contract limit is not paid for. Our results were pretty good, and although we had a few overweight pigs, this was small and had little effect on actual price/kg. However, some other producers supplying under the same contract suffered a price reduction of almost 3p/kg; this is a stark warning of the affect that incorrect selection of pigs can have on returns.

It is good to hear that Vion is investing £11.5m in its Cookstown Plant. Is it a coincidence it is investing so much on the factory that supplies the cheapest pigmeat in the UK? Maybe over time this investment can make the Cookstown Plant even more efficient and these savings can be passed on to producers – wishful thinking.

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