Farmer Focus: Hot weather puts pig unit to the test

Over the past few weeks the weather has been our main source of concern.

The heat and humidity in this part of East Anglia has not been conducive to good pig production, with all areas of the unit put to the test.

Pigs hate hot, humid weather – and so do the staff. It’s great though if you are on your holidays, I suppose.

The gilts and growers have struggled to get comfortable as temperatures soared into the low 30s and have been reluctant to come on heat.

The younger gilts have been very reluctant to eat and therefore did not grow at acceptable levels.

The sows have managed to fare slightly better, but return to service levels are up and scan rates are down.

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This is, however, not unsurprising, and with the extra gilts we have been serving, we should just about achieve our farrowing target.

All this said, we have not lost any stock due to heatstroke, and compared with some we got off lightly.

Thankfully, the rain is finally here and the temperature is down 10C.

The quotations for the farrowing house conversions are starting to come back and I’m gearing up to making a choice. I’m discussing the final details and of course trying to get a better deal – after all, I am a Yorkshireman.

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The new service area is half complete. The advantage of employing people who understand what we want has proved to be a godsend, as the minor changes required could be discussed, planned and implemented in minutes and not days, as could have been the case.

The lighting in this area will be upgraded when the other half has been completed to make life easier for the operator and hopefully encourage the sows to stand better at service.

The next job on the list is to ensure all our paperwork is correct and up to date in readiness for our annual IPPC inspection from the Environment Agency.

The pig price continues to rise steadily and should bring a feel-good factor back to the sector.

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