Dennis Bridgeford farms
50ha (125 acres) at Petley
Farm in Easter Ross, north
of Inverness. The farm
comprises of a 480-sow
indoor unit producing 95kg
pigs for one outlet and 85kg
pigs for a local abattoir. A
further 320 sows are run
outdoors. Land not used for
pigs grows spring barley
I HAVE always regarded the north of Scotland as geographically disadvantaged and miles from anywhere, but I am mighty glad that I am the length of the country away from the recent swine fever outbreak.
My sympathy goes out to those that have been affected and also for those whose businesses are on hold in controlled areas.
Lets hope that when pigs start to be released it has no affect on prices, adding more misery to those caught up through no fault of their own.
It really brings it home how lucky I am in some respects. Our closest pig unit is five miles away, with only another two units within 20 miles.
This is probably why we have managed to escape the ravages of blue ear – touch wood.
In the good old days I used to employ extra labour to cover summer holidays, I am afraid those days are long gone. We all have to knuckle down and spread the duties out.
For the last fortnight I have been in the farrowing rooms. I must be getting soft, but this is one area that still gives me a tremendous kick. Its a satisfying experience seeing pigs being born and suckling, looking pink, healthy and growing like mushrooms.
The down side is hand feeding sows, I would like to install a wet feeding system allowing us to feed little and often, along with an accurate intake curve. Unfortu-nately, the price looks prohibitive, but one day we will get there.
I mentioned recently our bank manager was taking early retirement, so there was some concern when the new manager decided to phone. My fears where unfounded, he had obviously done his homework prior to his visit.
His grasp of the problems of the pig industry were spot on. We had built up a good understanding with the last manager and I see no reason why this should not continue.
From an investment point of view, I am determined to continue with refurbishment before we start to make real structural changes. But looking around, the fork-lift needs changing and vehicles are now running at over 100,000 miles. These are the hidden costs of the recent pig depression. *
Dennis Bridgeford is pleased that the nearest pig unit is five miles down the road, when it comes to keeping disease risks low.