Farmer Focus: New year wishlist for pig housing

By the time this goes to press 2017 will be upon us so I’ll start by wishing everyone in the farming community a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

As a new year approaches I tend to review what we have achieved and start to formulate plans for the coming year.

So in review, the majority of the plans we wished to develop have been achieved namely the repairs to the farrowing and service area.

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The development of the new farrowing housing will commence in January and going forward the remaining section of the dry sow floors will be resurfaced.

We are looking at ways of insulating some of the dry sow yards and are seeking out management techniques to reduce piglet mortality in the first 24 hours after birth that will fit into our production system (this could prove to be the toughest challenge, but the most beneficial).

Due to the layout of the farm especially the farrowing area it can, at certain times, be difficult to attend every farrowing as often as we would like. 

We have started to use myself as the person looking after the births while Dave takes care of the routine piglet tasks. However, this relies on me not being called away to take care of other matters.

The system can work but we need to fine-tune it.

Another task in the farrowing area that is developing is that the amount of and positioning of the straw in straw-based house, early results are very encouraging with fewer loses and piglets laying in the creep area earlier.

The weather is causing some issues in the grower section as the reduced ventilation rates and variability in temperatures is allowing some pneumonia/coughing issues.

But as yet we have only had to treat individuals, who respond well, and avoided a more blanket approach.

On a personal note we need to spend more time with our family, as at times this job can make it very challenging to achieve the work-life balance, so be warned lads we are going to be taking more Fridays off.

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.