Farmer Focus: Born alive rate OK given conception issues

Since my last ramblings we have received our allotted quantity of straw – 1,000 big bales, which is on a muck for straw deal with our landlord and is of the best quality we have had for several years.

This also is the first year we have managed to have several weeks’ worth of last year’s crop left and still in very good condition.

All in all we will not need to use the new crop until mid-September.

See also: Solution to sow conception struggle

Pig production remains steady with the conception rate continuing to let us down.

We are awaiting a template of the new stalls to ensure they are what we want and that they will fit – as space behind the crate for sows turning is the only concern I have regarding the plan.

The born alive rate has settled at 13.5, which, considering our issues with conception, is acceptable.

With the arrival of a new member of staff to take over from me with the dry sows, I will be assisting Dave in the farrowing area with the aim of producing 12 weaned at 7.5 kg.

This will mean some changes to our routines and work practices over the coming months, as we need to maximise the born alive potential.

I have targeted a reduction in mortality of 4-5%.

See also: Outing cancelled as sows farrow early

The piglet scour I mentioned last month is still with us, but is not as widespread as it was.

Unfortunately, it still causes havoc with those litters affected.

We have changed our vaccination programme and the first farrowings on this regime are due next week. I’ll report back next month on the results.

The football season has started, the cricket is all but done, the Olympics is all but over, and the Glorious Twelfth has passed. This means that pig production is about to enter the silly season.

Sows switch off at this time of year in terms of breeding, which makes maintaining a service pattern difficult.

We try to overcome this by serving additional gilts to compensate.

As such the reserves are now awaiting their time in the service area.


Tony Bayles runs a herd of 1,000 sows producing 7kg pigs and all his own replacement stock on contract to a large local producer.