Farmer Focus: Planning prevents standards slipping

Happy new year everyone!

Over the Christmas period we try to make sure everyone has a few days off to enjoy the break with their family and friends. Being organised is key to making sure all jobs still gets carried out to the high standards we expect.

With pig farming it becomes obvious very quickly if standards slip. On the breeding side, we would see a difference in the farrowing houses nearly straight away and if conception rates suddenly dropped we would know within three weeks.

On the finishing side, if anything is missed it seems to bite quite hard and quite quickly.

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We have done the same every Christmas for several years now and, touch wood, we never see anything change much. So it’s worth letting everyone enjoy a bit of downtime.

Pig prices

Historically we always see a drop in the price for pigs into the new year as abattoirs cut their killing numbers over the Christmas period, resulting in a high supply of pigs. These pigs continue to grow and then not only do we receive a lower price per kilogramme, we also get hit by penalties for overweight animals.

However, the SPP dropped by 0.02p for Christmas week and then was back up by 0.10p for the first week of the new year, which gives us great hope for the coming year.

We try to sell more pigs in the weeks running up to Christmas, which are inevitably a bit lighter, but we must balance not only the weights, but also getting yards empty and turned around so a new batch of pigs can move in.

Planning is key in my job, making sure pigs are into yards when they are expected and the yards are empty. A few days either way can mess up not just one yard, but all of them.

I’m not sure why I do it, but my movements of pigs are planned up to October next year. If only it went to plan.


Kate Morgan and family farm 1,700 sows indoors in East Yorkshire and 1,200 outdoors in North Yorkshire, taking all the progeny through to slaughter.