Farmer Focus: Selling pigs for a loss is demoralising

There is still no good news to report on the pig farming front, I am afraid – the pig price is still falling and feed prices are still rising.

I had to buy a spot load of high-protein soya the other day at £455/t, which is more than 30% above what I was paying a few months ago.

Wheat and barley have also risen by similar percentages. With finished pig prices falling steadily, times are tough.

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Another big problem we have is that we have not been able to sell any cull sows for several weeks, As a result, we have gathered up more than 40 cull sows.

They still need feeding and when we do move them, they will have very little value.  

This month, we were scheduled to have three farm inspections: a farm vet quarterly visit, a trading standards inspection and the annual Red Tractor inspection.

I can’t help but feel that if Red Tractor and Trading Standards trusted farm vets, they could surely do all three in one visit.

I have noticed that when bad practice has been found on Red Tractor pig farms, vets who have been regular visitors to the farm have not been held accountable.

Perhaps if they were accountable as well as the farmer, things would be policed to a much higher standard.

The lady from Trading Standards has cancelled her visit because of Covid-19, but the other two are still going ahead. 

The past two batches of sows to farrow were the ones that I mentioned in my October column, where I suspected autumn infertility.

These are now out of the way and we have a lot of sows to farrow over the next five batches, which is always a nice problem to have.

I scanned more than 100 sows and gilts this week and there was only one doubtful gilt.

We all need some positive news and I think there’s lots to come shortly, but at the moment it is very demoralising to be working seven days a week, every week, to produce a good product and then have to sell it at a loss.

David Owers is a Farmer Focus writer in Lincolnshire. Read his biography.