Farmer Focus: Improvements in pig weaning weights awarded by Dunbia

I have mentioned previously that the grading of my pigs has steadily improved. This was confirmed at the AGM of the progressive lean pigs marketing group.

My pigs managed to pick up the “Dunbia Cup” for the best grading performance in the group of 32 producers, now marketing 4,000 pigs a week.

Albeit a nice achievement to provide what the processor wants, but I can’t help thinking I went too far in the pursuit of better grading, as this may not mean more profit a pig.

Read more articles from Andrew McCrea

I have been trying to measure the growth rates and feed conversions on my finisher farms.

Sounds simple, but in practice there is a surprising amount of information to keep track of. I am using the Batch Performance Calculator available on the DARD website for producers to help fill in and compare batches of all in all out pigs. This useful tool has helped greatly in my efforts to improve efficiencies on all our farms.

I am continuing to use supplementary milk in the farrowing houses with impressive results, especially with the larger litters.

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers

As I’ve mentioned before there is a lot of manual effort in feeding the milk. So I am trying some novel nipple drinkers in little bowls. Milk is piped around each bowl and in doing so kept fresh, which was the main problem with feeding in dishes.

We are hoping to use less creep feed in the farrowing pens to compensate the extra expense of the milk. I always felt a large proportion of expensive creep was wasted down the slates. The Agri food and Biosicence Institute Hillsborough have also done fairly extensive trials using creep in the farrowing house and found limited cost benefits.

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

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