Farmer Focus: We should be able to cope without zinc

A few months ago I mentioned the potential ban of zinc oxide in pig diets. The EU Commission made a decision on 19 June and zinc will be a banned product from 2022.

We knew the ban would go ahead, but the industry was hoping we would have longer to find an alternative.

Some products are being trialled at the moment. However, I’m a strong believer that we should be analysing why we are reliant on it – it is only a small part of the ration. With the right management, environment and nutrition, we should be able to cope without zinc.

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Our trials are going well, with all but one yard coping well. We just have to be very vigilant about picking up any signs of scour or pigs with puffy eyes – a sign of bowel oedema.

With the industry pushing hard to reduce the amount of antibiotics, this may hinder our efforts a little, although I’m confident we can achieve it through good practice and healthy pigs at Pockmor.

Technology conundrum

Communication continues to be an area we could improve on within Pockmor. We have so much technology available to us that it can sometimes make us overcomplicate things.

This results in duplicating information and not actually getting the end result. As the business grows, we find it hard to make sure everyone who needs to know things do, without causing unnecessary workload.

Different generations within our team mean using WhatsApp or Google Sheets (which we use a lot) is not always possible, as not everyone can use them. It is often better to write  things down – there less room for error.

My main problem at the moment is making sure each yard of pigs is fed the correct amount of each diet so we can achieve the best growth.

But with different drivers delivering feed and different bins on sites feeding a different amount of pigs, it’s not always easy. Is it time to go back to stickers on bins or should we all embrace technology?

Kate Morgan and family farm 1,700 sows indoors in East Yorkshire and 1,200 outdoor in North Yorkshire, taking all the progeny through to slaughter. Follow Kate Morgan on Twitter or