Andrew McCrea loves the challenge of pig farming

As with all New Year’s resolutions, it looks like mine is going to be much more difficult to keep than I thought. If you remember, I wanted to improve the management of my gilt herd. However, I have already run out of room for cycling gilts, so it’s back to the drawing board as I focus on how to sort this problem out.

I attended a meeting where Professor Bass Kemp, a fertility expert from the Netherlands, spoke about second litter syndrome where sows have a lower litter size in their second litter compared to their first and this lower performance can continue into subsequent litters. This is often caused by gilts loosing condition during their first lactation.

The obvious solution, of course, is not to let gilts lose condition, but this is easier said than done. Another option is to let them miss a heat after their first lactation. While another is to give Altrenogest for 14 days after weaning to prevent the sow returning to heat; this is the option I think I will try and I will let you know my success.

I am having some strange problems, or is it headaches, on my contract finisher farms. One farm has had a very poor run with vices, another has had pigs with stiff back legs and a third has had some pigs with erysipelas (a skin condition). We didn’t need these problems, especially when feed prices are increasing on a daily basis. When it goes wrong, it all seems to go wrong at the same time. Pig farming is always a challenge – but that’s why we love it.

Farmer Focus: Andrew McCrea

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