Farmer Focus: Busy enough without planning challenges

Things have been as busy as ever and the newest members of our team (Ed, Jack and Simon) have all settled in really well.

We have multiple training courses booked in for new starters and refresher training for others.

The to-do list also includes doing some overdue land work (we hope to finally get some dry weather) and a few shed improvements, including installing new lighting.

See also: 4 successful livestock collaborations to learn from

About the author

Jack Bosworth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Essex pig farmer Jack Bosworth farms 263ha of arable and a 540-sow farrow-to-finish operation in partnership with his family. About 60% of pigs are finished at home and 150 are sent to a farm in Norfolk to finish on a bed and breakfast contract.
Read more articles by Jack Bosworth

We will no doubt have some interesting conversations with our local planning department after our application for the butchery was recommended for refusal.

The government appears to want farmers to diversify instead of subsidising some farming activities.

But when we try to make that transition, it is more difficult and costly than it needs to be.

Numbers coming through the unit have been very good over the past few months, resulting in some sales at an average of 35kg to another producer.

The feedback on the first 450 sold was very good and it was pleasing that such a large outfit, producing a lot of pigs, noted how healthy our pigs were. We will be selling a similar number to it again shortly.

Breeding KPIs for the past six months are as follows: 32.5 pigs weaned a sow, 2.35 litters a sow, 88% conception rate, 13.9 wasted days a litter and 5% pre-weaning mortality.

Rearing herd mortality is 2.06%. The feeding herd has 1.13% mortality and the feed conversion rate from wean to finish is at 2.57kg.

It will be nice to get a few days off the farm this month.

Next week I am travelling to Yorkshire, as I was kindly asked to speak to the Otley Pig Club about our business, and then I am off to the Netherlands at the end of January to visit a couple of pig units, some research facilities and a feed mill.

It will be interesting to hear what farmers out there are doing in response to the plans to halve emissions, and how it is affecting business planning and the here and now.

I will always remember being shocked on a previous visit when I was speaking to a producer about how much value the pig slurry gives us – he was having to pay to get it taken away.