BPEX blog

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Post mortem points out health issues

A post-mortem can provide a lot of valuable information on pig health. At the Nottinghamshire VLA, Alan Murphy dissected a 60kg pig to show the East Midlands training club how they perform a post mortem and the range of things they look for i.e. joints, tail biting, lungs and disease that can occur in different places such as the liver. We heard that the better condition the carcase, the more useful the post-mortem will be. He also described what the vets are looking for when they're out on a unit.

Then John Richardson from Intervet gave some practical tips on injection techniques and ran through the legal requirements and safe storage of medicines.

If you're interested in Vet and Med training similar to this then let us know.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Cold snaps – thoughts from the East

The forecast is for another drop in temperature later in the week. The outdoor guys are probably better equipped for winter periods than most indoor producers. While indoor producers will lag their pipes, if it freezes within their buildings it can then be extremely difficult to get sufficient water around these units by any mechanical format.

The outdoor producers usually have the mechanical means to deliver water seven days a week when needed to all stock. Many will hire additional tractor/loaders over the winter and, in turn, extra labour can be brought in by the larger units with arable farms. Additional costs are also considered a necessity in the pre-winter months by the stocking of plumbing fittings that may also be required.

Extreme cold weather is causing headaches at abattoirs too where it has been reported on many occasions over the past couple of weeks that frozen water has meant that cleaning and disinfection of lorries has not been possible. This is clearly not ideal from an animal disease perspective and we would urge abattoirs every night during the cold bout to ensure that hosepipes don't freeze up overnight, and try and insulate exposed taps with a thermal cover.

Regarding the feeding of outdoor sows, if the ambient temperature at 15 C = base feeding level, then for every one degree C below base temperature they should be fed an additional 100gms. While I am not a nutritionist, I think the industry would develop another ration if we were to regularly face these prolonged extreme cold periods, possibly not seen since 1981.

Piglet mortality has risen over this cold spell where units were unfortunate to be batch farrowing during this period. Outdoor sows and piglets survive surprisingly well when cold, as has been shown by Dr Emma Baxter at SAC who looked at thermal images of piglets being born in outdoor farrowing arks compared to indoor sows immediately after giving birth. Snow, we can cope with but cold, wet, windy extremes are certainly conditions that pig/man can not do with and I hope we do not see.

Let us know how you have been getting on so far – coping with loading ramps, water pipes etc…

There’s some information here on coping in the extreme weather.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Hold on to our UK advantage

Slap marking is one of those routine jobs that has to be done, but it's vital to take care every time to make sure all pigs are clearly slap marked with the Defra herd mark.

UK producers have an ID advantage in the form of slap marking, but if marks are repeatedly illegible then the industry could lose this special EU derogation and would have to tag all pigs.

Make a habit of inspecting the slap marker and pins after every use, replacing any damaged parts straight away.

And if you don’t already, check the comments from the abattoir, slap marks need to be legible before and after slaughter!

For a quick refresher, see BPEX’s work instruction on slap marking.

Monday, 6 December 2010

More pig training for the Midlands

Four new training groups have got underway this winter in:
• The East Midlands
• Gloucestershire
• Shropshire (pictured left)
• The Fens


The original Midlands afternoon training group based in Northamptonshire has become such a success, that we've happily set up some more!

All pig unit staff are welcome to come along to the training sessions - they're all about best practice in pig husbandry. Some forthcoming training events for the groups include:

12 Jan, Shropshire: Establishing pregnancy
19 Jan, Midlands: Pre-weaning mortality
1 Feb, East Midlands: Gilt management
9 Feb, Gloucestershire: Establishing pregnancy

For more on similar training intiatives in other parts of England, you can go to the training pages at http://www.2ts.org.uk/.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A future in pigs

Helen Brookes of BPEX asked for student’s opinions of the pig industry, and their potential futures within it, when she delivered a lecture to Agriculture Diploma students at Kingston Mauwood College in Dorset.

The lecture covered an overview of BPEX and the industry in its current state and went on to discuss how the courses developed by BPEX can compliment their studies and provide ideas for projects and assessments.

Many ideas were put forward by students on why the pig industry is attractive to younger people, including:

"Pig units are a lot more high tech that other livestock farms so it gives the people working on them more variation in their job.”

However, the strain to their social lives due to the biosecurity measures was a concern to them because of the movement limitations placed on both humans and pigs. They felt this could reduce the interactions they had with other pig producers and create a secluded environment.

If you would like BPEX to come to your college please contact Helen Brookes: 07891 214335.