Farmer Focus: Mild winter helping us out of a sticky spot

Let’s hope 2015 sees some improvements for our pig farming friends. I’ve watched standard pig price (SPP) drop and drop in disbelief over the Christmas period, so pray that it turns a corner soon. Although there is a silver lining as at least production costs remain relatively low.

See also: Read more from our other livestock Farmer Focus writers 

We’ve actually had a hell of a Christmas, despite a few blips along the way. Before Christmas we had way too many pigs on the field because of poor sales.

Then, due to a communication error, we oversold and thought we were going to leave ourselves short for the festive period – particularly with our bigger pigs that we use for bacon and of course all those Christmas hams.

Fortunately I’m thanking our relatively mild winter up to now for some impressive growth rates in the run-up to Christmas. This helped us out of a hole and ensured we had enough to see us through, and seasonal sales this year have been outstanding.

So having made some cock-ups, all’s well that ends well and we’re actually going into the new year in pretty good shape.

Last year we pretty much had no pigs left when it came to January and were having to supply our customers with ridiculously underweight pigs.

But as I say, the milder winter so far has helped us through a sticky spot. Having said that, as I write this, the sub-zero temperatures mean the lads are bowsering round the water troughs, cursing the frozen water supply – it had to come some time I guess.

Right now it’s the quiet time in the butchery and a good opportunity to do a bit of training and complete all the jobs done that have been on the list for some time.

As it’s the busy time on farm – cold, wet weather makes everything harder, longer and generally busier – we may send in the butchery guys for a stint. It’s always good to get a better understanding of the whole process and be able to transfer that knowledge to the customers – I just hope Santa bought them some warm clothes…

Anna Longthorp

Anna Longthorp runs Anna’s Happy Trotters, a pork wholesale business supplying butchers, restaurants and farm shops with free-range pork from her family’s 2,100 breeding sows.