Farmer Focus: Pig farmers do it without subsidies

Welcome to my angle on pig farming, which I do in Lincolnshire. I manage a 700-sow unit for Limestone Farming Company.

Limestone Farming Company farms three 16,190ha estates in Lincolnshire as well as holdings in Ireland and South Africa.

We sell half our pigs straight off the sow at 8kg and the rest we finish to 105kg. Because of ongoing health problems, 12 years ago we restocked our piggery with high-health breeding stock from JSR.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

Since then we have operated a closed herd, so no breeding stock have come on to the piggery. We value and protect this high health status vigorously.

  1. We run a closed herd 
  2. Visitors must be 24 hours pig-free 
  3. Staff and visitors must shower into the piggery and wear our clothing and boots
  4. We have our own mill and delivery lorry
  5. We have our own livestock lorry for transporting pigs
  6. We have a small boar stud (five boars) two miles away from the piggery where we collect and process semen to inseminate our sows
  7. We operate a three-week batch-farrowing system, which gives us plenty of time to clean out and disinfect and rest buildings between batches

We operate a criss-cross breeding policy, so we wean 100 sows a batch from these sows. I then select the five most prolific sows to serve with Damline semen.

The gilts from these sows are kept as replacement breeding stock and the remaining 95 sows (minus culls and gilts) are served with Hampshire terminal sire semen to produce strong, healthy piglets for finishing.

All our sows are housed on straw and our finishers from 30kg are kept in straw yards. We are weaning more than 30 pigs a sow a year.

The British pig industry is unique worldwide in that we have many different types of production.

We have indoor, outdoor, semi-intensive, intensive and straw-based systems, but whichever of these you select, they are all audited and inspected to make sure the welfare of the pigs is of the highest standard.

I believe the British pig sector should be proud of what it does. We do it without any subsidies, remember.

Over the coming months I hope to tell you what goes on our farm and my thoughts on the industry.

Keeping antibiotics use to a minimum is a key aim for David on the 700-sow indoor closed unit he managing, selling half of progeny as 8kg weaned pigs and rears the rest to bacon weight (105kg). The farm includes horses, cattle, 1,620ha of arable land and an AD unit.