BPEX blog

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Policy makers meet pig producers

People who work in policy making, retail and environment got together with pig producers for the latest ‘Introduction to the Industry Day’. It was hosted by BPEX, NPA and Bishop Burton College. Attendees came from Waitrose’s meat counter, the first time retailers have been represented on the course, along with Trading Standards, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, among others.

Everyone who attended said they had learned a huge amount about how the pig industry really works and the impact of different policies on production.

Lecturer and pig unit manager Gavin Hodgson discussed practical pig production and showed the group round Bishop Burton’s pig unit, which has its outdoor farrowing arcs on concrete bases and finishes pigs on straw indoors.

Producers Richard Lister and Richard Longthorp explained all the legislative and environmental issues and the financial aspects of running a pig business. NPA’s Dr Zoe Davies covered the main welfare issues and Jen Waters, BPEX, highlighted all the other proactive ways that the industry is helping itself, including training, knowledge transfer and health schemes.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Full line-up confirmed for farrowing events

Full programme details have been confirmed for the BPEX 2TS Focus on Farrowing conferences in March. Have a look here.

Local indoor and outdoor producers will be speaking at each event, along with Dr Emma Baxter of the Scottish Agricultural College, Yannig le Treut of Lallemand and nutritionists Philip van den Brink and Dr Phil Baynes. They will all be discussing their latest knowledge and experience and answering questions on farrowing management.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Starch-rich diets for sows?

The 2TS Focus on Breeding conferences last October provided plenty of info and new ideas on reproduction and we've since been looking at ways to put them into practice. I quizzed producers on it at our Midlands and North Lincolnshire pig clubs.

Gilt and sow condition, avoiding second litter drop and oestrus detection are among the main issues.

We had an interesting discussion on feeding starch-rich diets in the wean to service period. The conclusion we made at the Midlands group with vet David Chennells is that if you are feeding ad lib and achieving intakes of 6 kg+ during those first few days, then consider using a dry sow ration. If intake is less, then continue to use a lactation ration.

And if you are achieving a high total born already…..change nothing!

The Midlands pig club meets at Weedon, Northamptonshire and the North Lincolnshire club at Grayhingham (photo shows the Midlands pig club having fun..honestly!)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Is ammonia affecting wean to finish performance?

We went out and measured ammonia levels in one unit’s wean to finish accommodation, where they were suspected to be a bit high. The ammonia level in the weaner accommodation (pens of 52 or 26 pigs) was 20-22ppm and in the finisher accommodation it was 35ppm. The ventilation in the finisher pens was less effective at removing ammonia, where we could see dust on the exterior of roof vents.

Increasing ventilation rate to decrease ammonia levels is an option but it would also decrease temperature which, in cold weather, would have a negative on growth rate. As growth rate is excellent currently we felt this to be unnecessary.

On the day of our visit only two pigs showed signs of tail biting so high ammonia was not correlated with tail biting in this case.

We came up with some suggestions to further improve ventilation:
• Temporarily seal side vents closest to walls in some weaner accommodation in some rooms (until the summer) and compare piglet lying areas with those in non-sealed rooms
• Alternatively create a ‘shelf’ four inches thick underneath the side vents in the weaner accommodation. This is to prevent air dropping directly into pens closest to walls and push air further into the room instead
• Re-seal roof vents in finisher accommodation to prevent draught

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Managing feed price volatility

Demand for BPEX-organised risk management workshops has been so great a new date has been added. In addition to those already organised, a further workshop will be held in Devon, on Tuesday, February 8.

Feed represents more than 60% of a pig producer’s costs and over the past few months there have been unprecedented increases in feed wheat prices globally.

BPEX and the NPA have joined forces to hold this series of risk management workshops to highlight what tools are available to help protect businesses from volatile prices, their potential benefits and their limitations.

The workshops are being led by Offre Demande Agricole which is a French company that has been offering training and expertise in this area for a number of years in France to arable and pig producers.

Following this series of short workshops BPEX will be arranging more extensive training for businesses interested in actively using the tools.

Details of the workshops are:

East Anglian - Jan 13, Brome Grange Hotel, Eye, Suffolk, starting at 4.30 with a hot buffet from 4pm
Yorkshire - Jan 18, Crown Hotel Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, starting at 4.30 with a hot buffet from 4pm.
South West - Tuesday February 8, 4.30-6.30 (buffet and coffee from 4pm), Padbrook Park, Cullompton, Devon EX15 1RU

Anybody who wishes to attend one of the workshops, should contact Sonia Bryson, email sonia.bryson@bpex.org.uk or by phone on 02476 478790.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Farrowing dates for the diary

Farrowing will be under the spotlight at our three producer conferences this March. The dates for the BPEX 2TS Focus on Farrowing conferences are:
Monday 21 March - Cirencester
Tuesday 22 March - Bury St Edmunds
Wednesday 23 March - Wetherby

Local indoor and outdoor producers will be speaking at each event alongside technical experts. Dr Emma Baxter of the Scottish Agricultural College and nutritionists Philip van den Brink and Dr Phil Baynes are among those already confirmed. Topics up for discussion will include sow nutrition for vigorous piglets and practical solutions for newborn management.

This initiative builds on the success of last October’s conferences on reproduction in Wetherby and Milton Keynes. The additional date and location for the spring events provides more opportunities for producers to attend.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Have you seen a drop in born-alive numbers?

The BPEX KT team has had feedback from producers about a drop in numbers born-alive over the last six weeks and is investigating further.

All who are interested in being involved in a national survey please make contact with your regional KT manager or contact Colin Stone at colin.stone@bpex.org.uk or on 07816 941223.