Farmer Focus: Plans needed during carbon dioxide shortage

Despite the stifling weather our pigs seem to be performing relatively well and the guys on the farm are doing a sterling job in very tough conditions.

We are in the midst of sending our latest batch of pigs to Tulip which average 86.2kg dead, so approximately 112kg live at 22-weeks-old. 

This is the second batch that hasn’t been vaccinated against Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia (APP). The post weaning mortality is low and clinical signs are non-existent.

Our vets have monitored the carcasses at the abattoir and APP does appear to still be lingering, but at a much lower level thanks to the batch system and vaccination programme. This is a low-risk time of year, but we are going to test the system as we head into autumn.

See also: Advice for controlling PRRS in pigs

Our last quarterly vet visit was very pleasing as we spent 90% of the time talking about strategy.

Accommodation overhaul

I mentioned a couple of months ago we need to overhaul our dry sow accommodation, improve labour efficiency in the farrowing house, and create more finishing space; but it was a case of where to start and how to do it without ceasing production.

We have decided to start with increasing the number of finishing spaces and possibly switching from three to two-stage production.

This will mean we can take the majority of our pigs through to bacon weight, and a heavier weight at that, so bringing a fast return on investment to allow work to start on other areas of the farm.

We are getting quotes and building designs in thick and fast. Now, fingers crossed for environmental permitting and planning next.

Carbon dioxide shortage

You have no doubt heard pig abattoirs in the UK are potentially facing a shortage of carbon dioxide due to a major leak coinciding with planned maintenance in European ammonia plants. 

Tulip’s Brechin site has ceased slaughtering but some abattoirs are expected to continue by reducing throughput and using current stocks or by using alternative methods of stunning.

At the moment there is little indication as to when carbon dixoide production will resume to normal levels, but the pig sector has been vocal in trying to ensure the meat sector is prioritised.

Meanwhile, farmers have been advised to think of contingency plans should we have to hold pigs on site longer than usual.