FARMER FOCUS: Plan before partial depopulation

Now that the dark nights are here, they signal the start to the winter meetings.

Last week was the start of our second year as Pig Monitor Farm. The meeting started with the theme “return on investment”. 

Two years since our new weaner shed went up, we have growth rates, food conversion ratio (FCR) and running costs for it, so the maths has been done and the payback, mainly because of the improved FCR and a 40% grant, is estimated at about three years. This is better than I had budgeted for.

The second half of the meeting was a talk given by Steve Blaken from Ripon, Yorkshire, on his experience of a partial depopulation on his unit. 

He stressed that planning such an undertaking was absolutely crucial, giving that you loose about 10 months of replacement gilts from your herd, and as our replacement rate runs at 50-60% that is a big hole. 

We need to double our gilts intake for six months before the depopulation, so the herd age does not rise too high, giving us too many old, unproductive sows.

The other message he left us with was to find good accommodation for the growing herd during the depopulation, or sell weaners.

This week started with a conference organised to celebrate 40 years of mineral and feed production by Norvite, Animal Nutrition (one of our local feed suppliers).

The speakers talked about what developments there had been in the last 40 years, the future of animal nutrition, how to encourage the general public to appreciate the value of food, and how to make farming a better place for the next generation.

Later in the week I was invited to a business lunch, where Claire Balding OBE, spoke of her life as a jockey and broadcaster, followed by a retired Glasgow lawyer who told stories and jokes non-stop for almost an hour. A good day had by all.

The week ended with the Young Farmers Ploughing match where Daniel and I finished second in our respective classes. I won’t say how many there were in my class!

Danny Skinner farms 440 sows selling finished pigs through Scottish Pig Producers. He runs 125ha at home and rents a further 50ha, growing cereals for home mixing

More articles from Danny Skinner

More from our other livestock farmer focus writers