Farmer Focus: Big believer in assurance schemes

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, Lewis Hamilton is back on track and Doncaster Rovers are promoted (sadly not as champions).

On the farm, staff are back from holiday and pig performance continues to rise in all areas. So why am I not as relaxed as I should be? Well, who would be a farmer?

Our annual Farm Assurance inspection is due later this week so I’m busy checking through all the paperwork to ensure we are in a position to maintain our record of no non-compliances, I suppose I just jinxed it.

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As a big believer in assurance schemes I consider it essential that we treat these assessments seriously as the marketing advantage at the retail end of the chain can be considerable.

Water works 

The water regulation assessment is ongoing with about 90% of the work now completed. 

The main issues left are identifying mains and header tank pipelines and ensuring the large tanks in the roof spaces of the dry sows are compliant. This is not as easy as it sounds due to access and health and safety requirements.

We have used the opportunity to work on the water system to install an inline water medication pump in the grower section. This will allow us to medicate the growers more promptly and efficiently as there is a time delay in ordering in-feed medication.

With the ever-increasing emphasis on antibiotic reduction this should also allow us to reduce the amount of medication used along with achieving a more effective result.

Will straw be short?

The current warmer weather has allowed us to remove the plastic sheets over the windows in the dry sow yards.

The extra amount of air and light makes such a difference to the feel of the buildings both for the pigs and staff.

Having taken the dog for a walk I passed some fields growing barley of which we are to have the straw.

This was an eye-opener as the crop had shot into ear but was, unfortunately, only 18in tall.

This may mean there could be a shortfall in our straw supply come harvest, as I said at the start of this article, who would be a farmer?

Tony Bayles, Thetford, Norfolk, runs a herd of 1,000 sows producing near 7kg pigs and all his own replacement stock on contract to a large local producer.