Farmer Focus: Pig growth flying in cool summer

While I may have been a little doom and gloom last month when talking about feed prices, the silver lining is that we have been seeing some good performance on both the breeding and finishing sections of the farm.

In our last two batches of finishing pigs, we saw average daily gains in the bacon pigs (making up 97% and 88% of the pigs in the batches respectively) of 822g/day and 854g/day at 155 days old, meaning average deadweights were 84.5kg and 87.6kg.

The following two batches exited the grower house at excellent weights of 52.3kg at 94 days old and 42.2kg at 86 days old – the bonus of a cool summer.

About the author

Sophie Hope
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Sophie Hope, Cheltenham, farms 380 sows indoors from farrow to finish, producing 10,000 pigs a year direct to Tesco, as well as 81,000 broiler-breeders. A straw-based system is currently in place with boars from composite commercial lines and some Hampshire used for hardiness.
Read more articles by Sophie Hope

Some differences

These four batches are all different terminal sires; the JSR 400 Hampshire, the Rattlerow P81 and Danish Duroc.

I am yet to calculate the feed conversion ratio for each batch and I suspect that’s where we might see some differences between the lines.  

Breeding performance has also been solid, with the previous four batches averaging 14.84 born alive a sow and the last batch weaning 13.56 a sow, with pre-weaning mortality about 10.5% over the past six months.

In industry news, the European Commission has confirmed that it will set out a proposal, by 2023, to ban farrowing crates.

See also: 6 ways pig unit works with minimal zinc and antibiotics use

Impact assessment

The “End the Cage Age” campaign is looking for cages to be phased out by 2027, but the commission has accepted that there will need to be a thorough impact assessment and appropriate transition period. 

The impact assessment will look at socio-economic and environmental implications of banning crates, as well as the effects on animal welfare. It has been made clear that farmers will receive support during the transition.

The UK food and farming sectors also seem to be facing quite a serious labour shortage.

We have certainly been struggling to get staff over the past six to 12 months; whether pig, poultry or general estate work, and this seems to be a common trend along the whole supply chain. 

I know the industry bodies are working hard, on our behalf, to try to raise this issue with government; so it will be interesting to see what sort of resolution could be made.