Farmer Focus:Chis Fogden 18/3/05

GLOBAL WARMING has temporarily halted and no doubt some expert will start spouting about the imminence of the next ice age. The late winter snow provided an opportunity to view footprints of nocturnal fox activity around farrowing paddocks.

Alarm buttons were pressed when tracks could be seen going right through the fox fence. This was partly explained when it was found the fox fence had been turned off that night by mistake.

Another night with the fence turned on showed it being quite effective, but some foxes were still breaching it. I don”t think their visits were purely social.

My wintertime self-imposed sentence of farrowing hut repair has thankfully come to an end, with more than 60 refurbished huts to show for it. This is just as well, considering the number of litters lately.

 The need to repair huts was also precipitated by the extra gilts coming in to repair herd age structure. Replacement gilts currently have a net cost of virtually zero, as cull sow prices have breached the 90p/kg deadweight barrier, bouncing back from 70p/kg in a short space of time. This makes cull sows worth about the same as gilts.

Recent auctions of outdoor pig equipment have also shown depreciation to be close to zero for well maintained equipment. All we need now is for tractors to follow suit. Unfortunately, local tractor dealers don”t agree.

As someone who has never benefited from CAP, it is amusing to be receiving DEFRA information on the subject. I might take the advice in the guidance booklet on soil management where a typical outdoor pig unit is pictured on a particularly grotty winter”s day illustrating soil erosion.

Alongside this is a photo of a brand new outdoor unit on a fresh grass sward like we all have for a day or two each year before the combined armies of snouts, hooves and rain get to work. Only one thing is missing, there is not a pig in sight. Perhaps there is a hidden message there from DEFRA.

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