Andrew Mcrea trials odour-reducing innovation

Pig Regen, the pig producer levy body for Northern Ireland responsible for research, has recently carried out some odour testing on my farm using a product aimed at reducing ammonia emissions.

The product has been widely used in England to reduce odour coming off outdoor slurry lagoons and consists of pebble-like clay aggregate that floats on the surface of slurry and prevents gases from escaping. The study was undertaken to determine if the product could work effectively in indoor units.

The results were better than I could have predicted, with an 80% reduction in ammonia and 70% overall odour reduction compared to tanks with no treatment. This is exiting work and could be used not only to get better performance from pigs and better working environments for staff, but also to reduce the odour escaping from our farms.

I have also received some more encouraging grading results from the abattoir, which we achieved by reducing the sale weight of gilts. On the first batch of 1,400 pigs we have reduced average back fat levels by 0.7mm through selecting gilts for slaughter earlier, while allowing boars to remain to heavier weights. More of my pigs are now hitting the top grade, putting more money in my pocket, which is much needed at this time with DAPP slipping.

I was disappointed to learn Sainsbury’s are not going to continue with the Red Tractor Logo. I wonder whether they would still buy my pigs if I didn’t bother with British Quality Assurance for Pigs scheme? No. So stop mucking about with pork labels and give the consumer back the Red Tractor.

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.

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