Stick to culling policy and maintain feeders, pig farmers told

Under pressure UK pig farmers could save thousands by ensuring the upkeep of feeders and culling non-productive sows, an Irish expert claims.

Speaking during an AHDB Pork online seminar, Ciarán Carroll, head of Teagasc’s pig development department, urged struggling UK pig farmers to focus on what they can control – “what’s inside the farmgate”.

“We can get bogged down with prices – pig prices, feed prices – things like that. But at the end of the day, they are things we have no control over as pig producers,” he said.

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Sticking to a strict culling policy and removing non-productive sows from the herd were among the recommendations made by Mr Carroll during an AHDB Pork online seminar entitled Getting through tough times.

“Once you’ve made the decision to cull, cull immediately,” he said, estimating that an extra 10 empty days per litter will cost £27,000 a year for a 500-sow herd.

Feed waste

Savings can also be realised by reducing feed waste when finishing a herd, he said.

With approximately 12t of feed passing through a single feeder each year, adjusting them regularly, keeping them in good repair and replacing broken ones is essential, he told listeners.

“When you think of the amount of feed and the value of the feed that’s going through them you can’t afford to be wasting it through faulty adjustments or faulty or broken feeders.”

See also: Pig industry once again in a trough

He said a 4% reduction in the amount of finisher feed wasted is worth £1.55 a pig, which adds up to £19,000 for a 500-sow herd.

Mr Carroll also recommended examining slaughter weights, farm energy use and loan or overdraft options.

Price recovery

AHDB Pork analyst Stephen Howarth said price recovery later this year is possible but the scale and pace is uncertain.

“At the moment, market conditions are looking fairly similar, certainly for the first half of 2016, perhaps easing a little bit as we get towards the end of the year, but that suggests we’ve got another difficult year in store for producers,” he said.

“But there’s at least a possibility we might see some EU-led price recovery later on in the year but at this stage the pace and scale of that remain uncertain.”

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