Dennis Bridgeford

17 October 1997

Dennis Bridgeford

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

land not used for pigs grows

spring barley for use in the

farms mill-and-mix plant.

WE HAVE reached the end of an era. The sow stalls have been emptied for the last time and await the steel cutters to take them out for scrap.

We finished the new service house on time at the end of September, with the first weaning looking very happy without too much bullying between sows. The pens have been designed so we can split between large and small sows. Unfortunately, like all females, this does not stop all the fighting but we will start out this way.

The real proof will be in four months time, when we will see whether it has an effect on numbers born and our farrowing index. They have been good of late and it is with some trepidation that we embark on a new system. But it is really a pointless argument if the purchasing giants demand no stalls, and now I gather its happening earlier than the law states.

One problem we had to decide on was how much extra straw we would require over the year. We normally bale all our straw in big square bales as it makes handling so much easier, though you have the drawback of not being able to store them outside. We have purchased 350 round bales to give us that bit of extra cover. I suppose this is the first real extra cost of coming out of stalls and slats. As we start to serve over the next few months we will keep you informed.

We have been vaccinating for EP since the start of July, and it is very noticeable that the pigs are more even sized in their pens, and they look extremely well with a nice healthy bloom – I keep saying this to myself as the vets bills come in for the vaccine.

I wonder how much it actually costs to produce the product. Can I suggest that now the manufacturers have bombarded me with all the literature that instead of paper they consider some discount?

We have made a slight change with the newly weaned pigs. They normally go straight onto our wet wean system, but we now feed a creep pellet in the flat decks for three days prior to the wet wean. This appears to be stimulating the gut prior to the liquid feed. It is very noticeable that the smaller pigs are really a lot happier and dont get the same post-weaning check. This in turn is allowing us to get most of the pigs on to a home-mixed diet, at a cost of £260/t, 10 days after weaning.n

The EP vaccine is working well, says Dennis Bridgeford, with pigs having a healthy bloom. But he reckons offering a discount would be better than the mountains of literature sent by manufacturers.

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