FARMER FOCUS: Pig health gets the focus at Cookstown conference

Pig health, in particular pleurisy and milk spot (worms), was the focus at Parklands Veterinary Group’s PIG R US conference in Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

Research company Pig ReGen ‒ originally set up with a voluntary levy paid by farmers for research ‒ used the platform to launch the Northern Ireland Pig Health Strategy. Targeting Pleurisy and milk spot could save the Northern Ireland industry up to £5 a pig, based on levels now.

I have been informed I was successful in my application for the DARD Biomass Processing Challenge Fund Grant. This is another hurdle crossed, but there will be bigger obstacles ahead before my dream of having an anaerobic digestion on my farm becomes a reality.

I have started feeding 12% concentrated whey to my dry sows, lactating sows and second stage weaners. Up until now we have used whey for finisher pigs, however this should go a little bit further in reducing my cost of production.

I have hosted a focus farm meeting for a dairy discussion group. Why would a dairy group want to listen to a pig farmer you might ask. Dairy farming is becoming more intensive and I was asked to discuss managing cash flow.

I described how we use internet banking to reconcile our accounts package on a daily basis, rather than wait for a bank statement to arrive to give us a better feel for where we stand, what cheques have been lodged, and what bills are due to be paid.

We all agreed we are running businesses not just farms anymore.

Andrew McCrea farms a 740-sow birth-to-bacon business and 150 beef cattle on 37ha. Andrew is a DARD Focus Farmer and was 2010 Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year

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