Farmer Focus: Technology can help to increase margins

Our penultimate monitor farm meeting was held last month.

The theme of the meeting was how modern recording equipment can help manage a pig unit and improve feed conversion ratio (FCR) and growth and thus, increase margins.

We concentrated on our weaner feed system and ventilation control. In our case, we use a new, experimental, online system called Guardian Action.

It records all the feed distribution for each trough and puts the information in a way that allows us to see, for example, how a change in diet or even a change in temperature in a room can affect intake.

As the information is recorded on a daily graph, you quickly see the effect of change.

We also have a free access weigh crate in one batch of pigs, again recording information online and together with the feed data we can get a daily growth rate and FCR.

See also: Read more from our other livestock Farmer Focus writers

Our creep supplier’s nutritionist spoke of how it was rare to get this sort of information from a commercial unit and how he would be better able to tailor the feeding regime to allow best possible growth at the best cost and adjust it as necessary.

So technology can help us and as pig prices are at a low at the moment, any boost is welcome.

The weather has hampered our spraying programme. It has either been wet or windy or both.

Changeable weather is too risky to spray herbicide on the spring barley, but we have the wild oat spray done and have just started on the weeds.

Hopefully June will be a better month with a bit of heat to get the crops moving or we will not get a big yield.

Winter crops are looking well, but again need heat and sun to increase their yield.

After getting our borehole water tested, we find that it is high in nitrates, giving us some concern.

After speaking to our vets and nutritionists, an increase in vitamin E seems to be required to counteract the nitrates.

This may even give us a boost in performance. As I said previously, any sort of boost is welcome.

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.