Farmer Focus Livestock: Andrew Freemantle transfers 739 pigs to finishing unit

This month I have two thank you’s and an apology.

First, I would like to thank my farm staff (John, Phil, Jon, Russ, Mercedes and Alfiya) for a record month in April when we transferred 739 pigs from our breeding unit at Kenniford to our Exton finishing unit. This is a record output for a five week month – 147 pigs a week. It also highlights the advantages of farrowing inside as we didn’t suffer an increase in pre-weaning mortality during the extreme cold weather which some outdoor units endured.

This makes me question what is the best way to look after pigs. Outdoor systems give pigs more space and ability to exhibit natural behaviour – to a point. However, some outdoor units have to ring sows to stop rooting behaviour, which can create welfare problems and NVZ issues.

My system is a compromise and keeps sows and litters in crates for five days before being moved to a free-access, straw-based pen. Piglets are then more capable of avoiding the sow who happens to be 200 times bigger. I like to think this gives the best of both worlds.

My second thank you goes to my team at the Devon County Show. We had excellent sales, in hot weather, with the catering trailer temperature measuring 42C at one point – any hotter and we could have cooked sausages without an oven. Saturdays at the show are busy due to the excellent idea by the organisers of letting children in free.

A sincere apology goes to Barry our farm fitter and maintaince man. I tidied out his workshop and, in doing so, I chucked away some valuable items. Now I will have to help him go through the trailer and find the tools concerned before it’s scrapped.

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