Farmer Focus: Pig farming can be as frustrating as golf

There’s nothing much to look forward to on the pig farming front at the moment.

As I mentioned last month, pig prices are still falling and feed prices are shooting up.

Piglet viability has not been great for the last couple of batches here and we have now had quite a few abnormal returns in the past month, with no obvious health problems in the sows.

We have not had any autumn infertility in the breeding herd for the past two years, but it now looks as though it is back with a vengeance.

See also: Six causes of pig infertility and how to avoid them

I always think pig farming is a bit like playing golf – as soon as you think you are the boss of it, it comes back to get the better of you.

But what makes us pig farmers the resilient people we are is that after a setback, we inevitably come back with better performance.

The one bright spot over the past month is that the two young lads that help us on a weekend and in school holidays, Jack, 16, and James, 13, both sons of one of our key stockmen, are showing great promise.

This half term I sent them both on a two-day “tractor driving for youngsters” training course run by Carolyn Vickers-Lingard of the North Lincs Rural Training Group, who organises all our training needs.

Apart from the obvious of giving them both basic tractor driving advice, they are also taught about safety around farm machinery, which is vital around a working farm environment.

On the second day they had tractor driving experience. They were both really chuffed, and they passed with an 88% and 90% pass rate.

I find it really satisfying that most of our staff started working for us while they were still at school and are still with us now.

When people ask me why our staff turnover is so low, I think the main reason is that I start them young and then try to look after them.

I just hope it doesn’t backfire on me and that Jack and James decide they would rather drive a big tractor than be a pig farmer.

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