Farmer Focus: Bowser looks redundant with climate change

I was first told of the climate change phenomenon while at primary school in 1977.

Interestingly enough, it was a fellow pupil, not a teacher, who spoke of our planet’s warming, and this visionary precursor to Greta Thunberg was pretty much right – if only she’d had the power of today’s social media platforms to spread her predictions.

That said, as 11-year-olds in a cold Lancashire playground, I don’t think the idea of a Mediterranean-like climate sounded like a bad thing.

See also: FW Opinion: Farmers need incentives to counter climate change

Forty-three years later and it’s evident that global warming is affecting our everyday lives.

Our water bowser is just about redundant from its once seemingly endless winter duty of keeping the pigs’ water tanks full when pipework froze.

Winter rainfall is higher here and more concentrated than ever, and all around us, nature is getting confused as to when the safe trigger of spring has really arrived.

My fear is our environment might now be in a state of irreversible change. We should still do all we can to slow this change, but, sadly, we now also need to adapt our lifestyles and businesses – yes, we are going to have to learn to live with it.

Elsewhere on the farm, 2020 has started with us turning our attention to the potential advantages of creep feeding our outdoor-bred piglets, pre-weaning.

This is something that has been explored before, but other than a tentative few grams flicked from a scoop into the back of the farrowing hut (while the sow is out feeding), I’ve never taken the idea very far.

Creep feeding on outdoor units like ours is full of complications, but now, with our minds set for progress, we have been looking at several ideas and I have two experts visiting from our feed suppliers this month.

I’m hoping they will be able to give me a clear idea of what we should ideally be aiming to achieve and be willing to share what they have seen elsewhere.

I know this is a subject of great interest across the industry, and I love a challenge.


Rob manages an outdoor pig operation in north Norfolk. See his biography.