BPEX blog

Friday, 25 March 2011

Yannig Le Treut, of French nutrition company Lallemand, left no doubt as to why pig producers must ensure quick and adequate colostrum during three conferences last week.
More than 300 producers attended the Two-Tonne Sow (2TS) Focus on Farrowing conferences, organised by the BPEX Knowledge Transfer team. Yannig was one of four technical experts who joined local pig producers to discuss management of both the sow and piglet to deliver a strong litter through to weaning.
Yannig said: “Colostrum provides energy and immune protection as well as helping the gut mature in the first few hours of life, which is one of its lesser-known functions. It is essential that the piglet has its first colostrum intake as quickly as possible as its body fat reserves and glycogen levels are very low at birth, making colostrum its main source of energy. It cannot survive without it.
“The best pig producers spend a lot of time with a newborn litter making sure that all the piglets, particularly the weakest, get to suckle, ideally within the first six hours. After that, the quality and level of immunity colostrum provides reduces rapidly.
“Where practical, producers should not cross-foster until at least 24 hours after birth as maternal colostrum intake must be the priority. Just mark the piglets ready for moving later. It is important that piglets drink colostrum from their own mothers, which ensures that piglets are equipped with the exactly the same type and level of immune protection as the sow.”
One producer said afterwards: “We always learn something new from BPEX meetings and this was a really excellent event. We will be re-thinking how quickly we start cross-fostering piglets and make sure they have had enough maternal colostrum first.”
To view the full presentations from Yannig and all the conference speakers visit www.bpex.org.uk/2TS/events.aspx. Also check with regional knowledge transfer managers for details of local meetings where there will be more discussion of these topics.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New feed crisis pack

BPEX has put together a new feed crisis advice pack. The biggest and most important single cost for pig producers is feed; on average it accounts for almost 60% of total production costs.

It is no exaggeration to state that global rises in the price of feed are the biggest threat to the sustainability of English high welfare pig production and processing.

The factsheets in this new pack discuss a range of ways to make efficiencies and reduce feed waste through the weaner and finisher stages, to secure the best net margin you can.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Landrace sows will cope outdoors

A question came in from a producer:
Can you put pure Landrace sows and gilts outdoors? Will they cope?

If you have views and experience on this, please add your comments below. Also, use the 'Ask BPEX' button opposite if you want to ask us a question or share your views on any other technical topic.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Performance picks up thanks to manager training

The first Professional Manager Development Scheme has seen everyone on the course achieve great results over the past year, with tangible improvements to pig performance as well as becoming more confident in managing their teams.

Helen Hooks, of East Anglian Pigs, used her first project to look at stockmen’s skills in the farrowing house on her indoor unit. From the new ideas Helen has put in place, piglets born alive have increased by half a piglet per farrow on average and the unit is now seeing 12 to13 piglets born alive, with an average of 11 piglets weaned per farrow. AI planning is a major area where Helen feels she has saved money: “To calculate the doses of semen required for service we used to multiply the number of sows to serve by three and, having looked more closely at what actually happens in the service house, we now multiply it by 2.25.” This means savings of roughly £2.60 per sow.

John Dunning of Kenniford Farm in Devon has changed the unit’s breeding programme so, instead of buying in gilts every month, the unit is now a closed herd and they breed their own replacements – with benefits for health and bio-security.

More achievements by their fellow managers on the course have included reducing pre-weaning mortality, improving staff skills and team-working and modernising their unit.

On 14 April 2011 the group will meet for a final awards presentation and celebratory dinner in Peterborough, including a special student of the year award. It'll be a great opportunity to recognise what they are achieving both personally and for their staff and businesses. Also, guest speaker Joanne Denney-Finch OBE, Chief Executive of the Institute of Grocery and Distribution (IGD), will share her views and experience on supply chain integration and relationships with retailers.

Applications for the next Professional Manager Development Scheme will begin this autumn...