Farmer focus: Time to decide on renovation work

Tony Bayles runs a herd of 1,000 sows producing 7kg pigs and all his own replacement stock on contract to a large local producer.

We continue to have difficulties in overcoming the pigs’ reluctance to breed at this time of year, mainly the gilts, which are slow to come into heat and, when they do, the heats are short and very weak.

Increasing the amount of boar contact prior to service has not improved the situation and I’m coming to the conclusion this year that mother nature wins and we will just have to wait until she decides it’s time to breed.

See also: Read more from the livestock farmer focus writers

The new sow service area is beginning to prove the investment was well worth it.

The level of returns are reducing and the number failing at scanning is the lowest we have ever seen, less than 10%. I will produce some accurate figures at a later date.

The other aim was to try to speed up the service process, but still allow the sows’ sufficient boar contact and this has been achieved with honours, currently we are saving 3-4 hours per week.

After several changes of mind, I have finally decided which option we are going to use to upgrade our farrowing area.

I will purchase a 10-place farrowing container and convert two of our existing straw farrowing rooms.

This will result in an additional 22 farrowing places and allow us the option to convert one of the old redundant rooms into a specialist area to rear surplus piglets, the aim being to lessen the burden on mum and increase our weaning weights.

We intend to purchase the equipment and do most of the conversion work ourselves.

This is so we can keep costs down, remove time pressures of working around an installation team and put the money saved into revamping the flooring in one of the other farrowing houses.

Once complete, the farrowing section should give us many years of service without expense.

I tend not to venture into politics often, but this incessant talk regarding the result of Brexit is infuriating, regardless of which way we voted. In a democracy the result stands, end of story, so please let’s get on with the future – whatever it has in store.