BPEX blog

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Alternative bedding materials?

Have you got experience of using alternatives to straw as bedding material for your pigs?

We’d like to hear what you have found works as a good alternative, and what hasn’t!

Email kt@bpex.org.uk with your experience or add your comments below.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Abattoir lorry wash contacts

Abattoirs have pledged to introduce a clear line of communication to ensure that lorry washing facilities are adequate for effective biosecurity. Cleaning and disinfection of livestock transport vehicles was the subject of an important meeting held in Diss yesterday. BPEX Eastern Pig Health led the discussion between livestock hauliers, farmers, processors, pig marketing groups and veterinarians.

We discussed the benefits of having farm contact numbers clearly visible to pig transport vehicles and other visitors at the gate or near the farm entrance. This led to a proposal and agreement to do the same at abattoir lorry washing facilities.

Typical issues livestock hauliers may find include water leaks, a hose pipe that is not long enough or lack of disinfectant. This new initiative will mean that drivers can quickly find the number and make contact with someone who has responsibility for the lorry washing facilities.

I’m anticipating that by the end of today we will have confirmation from 50% of the BQAP abattoirs committing to put this system in place. We need to take shared responsibility to get this to work within the supply chain. I think everyone went away from the meeting feeling much more confident that we can improve biosecurity with more consistent and effective vehicle cleaning and disinfection.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Know what's in your muck for better nutrient use

BPEX is at the Grassland and Muck event today as part of an AHDB muck analysis feature. Farmers are invited to bring along a manure or slurry sample with them for free analysis. The first 25 farmers each day to bring along a maximum of two samples will qualify for free analysis. Results will be sent to farmers after the event. Plus, visitors will be able to see a demonstration of the technology throughout the event on the AHDB stand in the muck area.

Accurate analysis gives livestock farmers the knowledge to make efficient use of the nutrients in manure and slurry. Knowing the composition of manures helps to both reduce the environmental impact of manure use and increase profitability.

Manures and slurries can make a major contribution towards grass and cereal crop nutrient requirements and help save costs on fertiliser inputs. It means manures can make a positive contribution to the bottom line, rather than being a cost burden, as the benefits of better nutrient management help offset the storage and spreading costs.

The challenge for farmers is to make best use of the valuable nutrients in manure while, at the same time, minimising any effect on water courses and the environment.

Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) is an innovative muck analysis technique that will help farmers analyse the nutrient content of manures rapidly and accurately, at a lower cost than before. It was developed through a LINK-funded research project and is able to predict total and ammonium nitrogen, phosphate, potash, magnesium and sulphur content of manures, slurries and biosolids.

Nigel Penlington, BPEX Environment Manager (pictured) said: “This analysis technique enables farmers to manage valuable plant nutrients with greater confidence, knowing more precisely what they are applying to the land.

“The key is that they can make informed decisions about where and when to use their manure or slurry, whether it be as part of their grassland management or to the benefit of an arable enterprise.”

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Pig Club making practical changes

Exeter Pig Club members have tried out a few new ideas since the 2TS Focus on Farrowing conference in Cirencester. Simple but significant changes include:
· making sure piglets get their mother’s colostrum
· checking dry sow diets for fish oil and researching additives – there are options, for around £8/tonne, to provide a mix of omega-3 fatty acids
· creating a maternity pack with a clip board, previous litter information and BPEX farrowing disc (pictured), to help record and monitor sows’ progress during farrowing – in one week, seven ‘type 2’ stillbirths (caused by asphyxiation at birth) were prevented as a result
· providing extra water pre and post-farrowing
· finding a way to try split suckling, by using the creep area and blocking off the pop-hole.