Dennis Bridgeford farms
50ha (125 acres) at Petley
Farm in Easter Ross, about
40 miles north of Inverness.
The farm comprises a
480-sow indoor unit and a
further 320 sows run
THE grain we purchased wet and dried at harvest ran out when we predicted, but now that we are actively buying up fairly large quantities of both barley and wheat, I find I am competing not against merchants, or even fellow farmers, but the Intervention Board.
Why does all the best barley have to go into a pile to be sold at a later date to some third world country at knock-down price?
The result of this is that the remaining barley in the area is of doubtful quality. Surely as pig producers we should be encouraged to use home-grown grain and not look about for by-products?
I managed my annual trip to the Pig Fair at Stoneleigh. It was very noticeable the trade stands with all the activity, were either breeding companies or feed companies. Lets face it – we still need to buy feed and the breeding companies are under the same type of pressure as we are.
One item that I had a really good study of was the new freedom farrowing pen. In conversations later I found a company that are going to try some out. I await the results with anticipation.
When pig prices do start to rise, I want to increase the number of pigs on wet feed. The building next to the current weaner accommodation is still lying empty after we got rid of the sow stalls, so its the next obvious place for extra pig space. Wet feeding offers a tremendous saving in labour but the capital cost is very high.
The smile was wiped off my face when I got home to receive a payment for cull sows with the average price struggling to hit £70/head. It makes the purchase of gilts an expensive pastime. The next piece of bad news was notification the abattoir we send our pigs to is to tighten the weight band for next year. I suspect this is its way of flexing its muscle now it dominates the slaughter market for pigs in Scotland.
For some reason the outdoor unit is hitting a purple patch at the moment, with well over 12 good strong pigs born alive and with the super weather we have been getting lately. Lets hope that the sows can rear them all.
Just as I thought I was getting it all together in the indoor unit, we seem to be getting some sows not milking very well. We have narrowed it down to mostly gilt litters but the odd older sow is giving us bother as well.
With the cull sow price being so low, the decision has to be made – do we try them for another litter or do we cull? *
The outdoor sows are producing well over 12 good, strong pigs born alive, says Denis Bridgeford.