Dennis Bridgeford farms
50ha (125 acres) at Petley
Farm in Easter Ross, about
40 miles north of Inverness.
The farm comprises of a
480-sow indoor unit
producing 95kg pigs for one
outlet and 85kg pigs for a
more local abattoir. A further
320 sows are run outdoors,
with progeny sold at 7kg.
THE only good news about February has been the weather, its been almost like early summer. This coupled with the longer day had made life that bit more enjoyable.
Every machine about the farm has broken down, from two tractors requiring new clutches to the fork-lift as usual needing very expensive repairs. I doubt if I would purchase another British made fork-lift as it has been rebuilt in the time it has been on the unit. Even our water pumping system for bore hole water has been giving us problems. The final straw was when one of the stockmen decided to alter the shape of the dutch barn with our relatively new tractor; the barn suffered the impact without a problem but the tractor came a definite second best, with the engine split from top to bottom.
The outdoor unit it going through a transitional stage at the moment as we move from a 50% dam line to a 25% line. This was giving us a fair amount of headaches as the new line was not standing up against the more dominant line, but as the balance changes this would appear to be getting easier. One change we have had to make is to start teeth clipping some of the larger litters, as piglet faces were getting badly cut while suckling. The sows were also jumping about a fair bit, so obviously had very tender udders.
The indoor unit has been going through one of those periods when nothing seems to be going well, and for some reason we are getting problems with our newly weaned pigs. We have taken the decision again to feed some pellets before we put them on to the wet feeding system. For some unknown reason every few months the wet feeder gives us problems with the pigs not eating, the problem disappears as quickly as it arrives but its frustrating.
With bacon pigs at 88p/kg it doesnt leave any surplus to invest; in other words we are losing money. If any pig farmer can make this pay I would like to meet him, its absolutely terrible 72kg pigs making £63.
With this in mind I decided to go on the protest march through Edinburgh, it at least made me feel a bit better. It was heartening to see that there is public support out there when you take the time to inform them. Mind you the MP from the government benches that spoke at the meeting needs some enlightening, at best he was patronising, at worst exceedingly arrogant and ill-informed.
One would have thought, when you consider that agriculture in Scotland is one of its largest industries, the Scottish Office minister would have addressed the meeting, not the office boy. *
Neither machinery nor pigs are performing well at the moment says Dennis Bridgeford.