FARMER FOCUS: Cash need prevents loose housing transition

Sometimes we put off to the last minute things that need to be done. This seems to be the case considering the amount of farmers at the recent Irish Pig Health Society conference still not fully loose housing their dry sows yet.

I was asked to speak about loose sow management. We have had loose dry sow housing since 1999 when Britain went ahead of the rest of Europe and banned dry sow cubicles. Many farms struggled with the transition.

I made a few mistakes along the way “learning the hard way”.

In the Republic of Ireland cash has been tight for many farms for a considerable time now and this extra investment needed with no extra production benefit is not in the mind-set of many.

However, “must do” is a great master and farms are under considerable pressure to get loose or else.

Some of the loose dry sow housing on market now is incredible with a big price tag.

I am sure looking back at the boom times of the “Celtic tiger” many wish they had done the change then, when money was more easily available.

I am hoping to do a restock next year to improve production and reduce disease challenge.

We shall see how the plans go.

I am doing up my pig benchmarking figures for the last year. Each year I say I will be better organised for next year so it is not such a rush.

Needless to say I am counting up loads of stuff manually for another year. I must try harder for next year!

Andrew McCrea farms a 740-sow birth-to-bacon business and 150 beef cattle on 37ha. Andrew is a DARD Focus Farmer and was 2010 Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year

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