Farmer Focus: Growing shed making up for low nursery gains

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the good growth rates we were seeing in the finishing herd, with one batch of bacon pigs hitting 875g a day from weaning to finish (128 days), with a liveweight of 120kg.

Despite some hot weather, this growth shows no sign of abating, with the latest two batches growing at 833g and 830g a day from wean to finish over 121 days and 118 days, respectively.

I mentioned the high weights seen three batches ago were a result of lower stocking densities and delayed selection of finished pigs but, even if you take these two factors away, we are still getting results. 

There has been some very high demand from our local outlets, Broomhalls in Eastington and Kings in Gloucester. 

This means we are able to cope with any overweight or underweight pigs we produce on a weekly basis. 

See also: Weekly weighing improves pig growth rates on Glos farm

Furthermore, our farm manager, Andrius, is managing the feeding and grading of pigs exceptionally well whenever they move to new accommodation. 

There is no doubt that the JSR 400 Hampshire boar produces pigs that perform well in our system, and we have yet to find a sire line to match it.

That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing the average wean-to-finish feed conversion ratio of 2.55 come down a bit.

Despite these good improvements on growth rates overall, we have seen the weights of the pigs exiting the nursery at eight weeks of age fall off considerably. 

For the 12 months to June 2018, the pigs averaged 20.5kg, but over the past year we have only managed 18.7kg.

However, what we have lost in the nursery we seem to have gained in the grower house, with exit weights over the same periods increasing from 41kg to 43kg at 12 weeks of age.

We aren’t really sure why this is the case, but we are going to change the way we grade pigs at weaning.

This should allow us to do an even more targeted feed programme to cater for the 6kg pigs at weaning, as well as the 10kg ones and all the others in between.

Sophie Hope is a Farmer Focus writer from near Cheltenham. Read her biography