Farmer Focus Livestock: Pigs are finally outside for Andrew Freemantle

Our sows are run in two large dynamic groups in a similar way to how an average dairy farmer houses his cows: Outdoors from March until November, and indoors the rest of the time.

It is a relief when they go out as straw use drops and sows seem a lot happier. Also, we can feed them over a much larger area, which means they get a better chance of sharing their food ration equally. We let them out in early March, they returned, because of excessive precipitation, but now they are out by day hopefully until December.

My last load of delivered straw was £80/t and I recently fixed my wheat forward until next December at about £90/t (it seemed too good an opportunity to miss).

I have a feeling we are in for a long, hot, summer as surely things will even themselves out. The cold spell has highlighted that our weaner accommodation needs improving. They were not getting to the correct temperature for maximum growth. In the summer we are going to invest in new internal roofs for the pens to try and keep the heat they create in more effectively.

As I write, we are preparing for the first big food show of the season: The Exeter Food and Drink Festival. I have set aside nine large gilt pigs for hog roasts and ordered 3500-plus rolls. With the weather forecast to be back to normal, I am trying not to count my chickens before they are hatched. I will update you next month on how it went.

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