MLCsheep survey

24 January 1997

Denmarks new style cattle & pig housing can cost far less

Denmarks agricultural show – Agromek – held this week at Herning attracted 80,000 visitors. Jessica Buss reports on the latest industry development

NEW designs for pig and cattle buildings could reduce construction costs and improve welfare.

The buildings, on show at Agromek, were said to cost 20-40% less than traditional Danish buildings because of their standardised design. They also aimed to improve working environments for farm staff.

Project co-ordinator Kraen Ole Birkkjaer from the Danish Farmers Association Advisory Service, said design tests would take two years to complete. These included tests on a range of materials that were lighter and cheaper than brickwork.

"Buildings must comply with the biological needs of the stock and the needs of farm managers for smooth running livestock housing," he said. "These buildings comply with the latest knowledge of temperature, movement and lighting needs."

One example of this was an arched instead of angular ceiling to assist air exchange and improve the climate within the building.

Part of the project would test two designs for loose sow housing. The first was insulated and sows fed slowly. The second was not insulated but sows would be deep-littered and fed individually.

Natural weaning

ALLOWING weaned pigs to exhibit their natural feeding behaviour produces more even growth and lower mortality.

The Fancom Danmark Caras feeding system provides feed in up to 20 doses a day using a computerised control system, said the companys Morten Jakobsen.

Feed is not delivered until the whole feed auger is filled so it is supplied evenly along the length of the feed trough. Feed is always offered fresh and all pigs can eat at once – unlike ad-lib hoppers.

system, he said.

"Piglets like to eat at the same time as they would from the sow," he said. "And with all eating at once its easy to see if piglets are not feeding or to dose medicine in the feed."

Feed em better

PELLETED grower feeds made from coarsely ground ingredients are better for the pigs stomach, according to feed supplier KFK.

A wheat-based diet for pigs of 25kg to 100kg was ground or grated before heat-treating and pelleting for its recent study.

Coarsely ground feed produced the best stomach health, increased feed intake by 4.5%, daily growth by 2.5% and improved bacteria population in the pigs stomach and intestines, compared with the same finely ground diet.

before heat-treating and pelleting.

Holstein elite

EACH year 300 young Danish Holstein sires are progeny tested with the aim of 10 being selected as proven sires. The Danish Hol- stein Association gives high priority in its breeding programme to traits associated with longevity.

it has found to be important for longevity. This are yield, mammary system, mastitis resistance, feet/legs, calving ability, temperament and daughter fertility.

Lighter clusters, healthier milkers

LIGHTER clusters, weighing only 1.7kg, benefit cow health by allowing milking to take place at a lower vacuum level. Hans Lerch-Henriksen of Danish milking equipment suppliers S A Christensen, said that when vacuum is reduced too low with heavy clusters the liners creep up the teat during milking.

For this reason, S A Christensens Uniflow light clusters weigh 30% less than its previous stainless steel clusters. The Uniflow fits on the teat better for a kinder milking at a lower vacuum level, said Mr Lerch-Henriksen. It is also also lighter for the milker.

"These clusters have teat cup shells made from a combined plastic that is soft, yet strong and resistant to parlour chemicals," he said. The shell would last as long as those made from stainless steel.

– and had a stainless steel ring at the top ensuring that vacuum was cut off completely when it was attached to the cow.

Cash for Welsh Black breeding

WELSH Black cattle breeders are to invest almost £500,000 improving the genetics and marketing of the breed.

Half the cash for the three year project is EU Area 5b funding, 25% comes from the Welsh Office and the rest from the Society. Breeders, many of them for the first time, will have access to semen collected from top bulls, and the chance to use techniques like scanning and embryo transfer to accelerate stock improvement.

Agencies, including MLC, Signet and ADAS, will work with the Societys 800 breeders to identify superior cattle, and to provide training and education, including in DIY AI, to farmers who have bred few of their Welsh Blacks pure in recent years.

Launching the project, breed secretary Evelyn Jones said the aim was to add value to pedigree and commercial Welsh Black cattle. The breed could not compete with the fast growth rates of Continental breeds on concentrates, but was capable of producing exceptionally tasty high quality beef from grass. However, growth rates, and carcass quality could be improved using modern breeding techniques.

The reduction in registrations to only 2000 a year had left breeders worried about access to new bloodlines. Those who co-operated in the programme would be able to use semen from 14 top bulls and fertilised embryos from 50 cows selected by a panel of leading breeders and scientists.

"We hope to prepare breeders for the possibility of the resumption of live exports and high quality genetics to overseas breeders who desperately need new bloodlines," Mrs Jones said.

"By improving the profitability of Welsh Black herds, the project will also encourage diverse and extensive grazing patterns that will benefit both farmers and the environment."

MLCsheep survey

MLC is urging sheep producers to complete and return its latest industry survey.

Last carried out in 1987, it aims to update knowledge of the structure of the sheep industry, such as breed types and position within the stratification system.

"This should ensure knowledge of the industry structure is as up to date as possible so that strategic initiatives, such as our breeding work, can be targeted to have maximum effect on the industry," says MLC sheep strategy manager, Stewart Hall. The survey has been sent to 6500 sheep producers in Great Britain.

will also be available to other industry bodies, such as the National Sheep Association and the farmers unions.

Sows fed ad-lib on sugar beet residue are quieter and wean larger litters. That is according to Danisco Sugars agronomist Brogger Andkjaer. Loose housed or outdoor pregnant sows must be occupied to prevent them becoming aggressive, he claimed. An outdoor herd was fed directly from 150t bags of ensiled sugar beet residue with added protein, vitamins and minerals at 21% dry matter. Sows ate 14kg a day with waste estimated at 5%. Indoor sows were also fed the sugar beet residue ad-lib, but using an automatic feeder, and ate 10kg a day each. "In both herds, the feed has satisfied the energy needs of the sows and maintained body condition," said Mr Andkjaer. "The sows are calm during gestation and have weaned larger litters."

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