Farmer Focus: Into 2020 with excellent fertility results

The New Year brings another chance to get things right.

The run-up to Christmas – as many will know only too well – is a busy time of year on farm.

I’ve heard it said many times that Christmas is a two-day holiday that ruins a whole month.

But that’s a bit unfair really. I think we can all benefit from the festive celebrations at an otherwise bleak time of year.

See also: The options for getting into pig farming

From that first playing of Jona Lewie’s classic over the tractor radio, we all knew full well that we could not stop the cavalry – it was full charge ahead to get everything shipshape in time for Christmas Eve.

The Monday morning before the big day, I found time to take all eight staff out for a well-deserved fried breakfast at the great little Norfolk farm shop cafe alongside Creake Abbey.

The locally produced sausages and bacon served there are a thing of joy and the time we spent eating, drinking and chatting gave a great opportunity for us to reflect on some of the highs and lows of the past year.

For me, the greatest achievement is making significant improvements to our average number born per litter, which has risen from 11.8 to 13.2 piglets a sow.

Alongside this, we are also enjoying much improved pregnancy scanning results, which take place at seven weeks after first service, so this scan will also include any three-week returns that have held.

From a batch scan of 155 sows, we have typically seen 10 or so sows not in pig (NIPs), but over the past three months we have had two tests at 100% pregnant and two with just a couple of NIPs.

If nothing else, this tells me we are lucky to be experiencing a period of good herd health.

It hopefully also indicates that all the hard work being put in by the farm staff is paying off.

And, at this point, I should take the opportunity to say a big thank you to all fieldsmen, veterinary staff, nutritionists, AI suppliers and so many other associates who helped us throughout 2019.

Happy New Year all.


Rob manages an outdoor pig operation in north Norfolk. See his biography.