Richard Longthorp farms
720ha (1800 acres)
near Howden, East Yorks.
As well as arable, the
farm has 2500 outdoor
breeding sows with progeny
taken through to bacon. He
is also chairman of the
National Pig Association
WHAT a spring for outdoor pig production. It is now Apr 24 and we have only recorded 101mm (4in) of rain this year to date.
But all has not been as well as the rainfall may suggest, for while days have been warm and dry, many nights have been bitterly cold. This has led to an upsurge in respiratory problems in growing pigs and higher mortality in farrowing huts. Such huge variations in temperature make managing outdoor accommodation more art than science.
Due to F&M, we were unable to hold our contract finishing yard visits and group meetings during 2001. So it was with pleasure that Diana, myself and Andrew, our contract finishing manager, set off on a bright and early morning to look round more than half our sites.
It was really uplifting to meet with those people responsible for growing most of our pigs on and discuss ways of making further improvements. I am looking forward to our group meeting.
At the meeting we will have new carcass management software demonstrated and hear how, through genetics and nutrition, we can work to meet the ever more exacting standards demanded of us.
Our feed is purchased through until the end of August, but I have asked our suppliers to keep their eye on the forward commodity markets and advise accordingly. We need to ensure price and quality are optimal.
We are currently undergoing an insurance risk review of all our units in the hope that if we can show that our risk is low, we may see some reduction in premium – or was that another pig flying past the office window?
It was a privilege recently to be asked to speak to a Ladies in Pigs meeting, but saddening to hear that they, as with many organisations I guess, are struggling for not only members but also funds.
No doubt several of our staff will be travelling to the Pig and Poultry Fair, but two of our young men in particular will be travelling with hopes and aspirations, as they have entered for the Agskills trainee of the year. We are keeping our fingers crossed for Sean King and Richard Shirley. *
Its been fantastic weather for outdoor pig production, but cold nights have led to some respiratory problems, says Richard Longthorp.