BPEX blog

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Reduce risk of autumn infertility

Sows and gilts that are served from mid-September to late October may suffer from infertility problems including delayed oestrus, increased returns and abortions. Predisposing factors include sows being weaned in poorer condition, warm days, cool nights and decreasing day lengths. There are some things you can do to minimise the risk:

Minimise draughts and ensure any cracks in ceilings and around doors are sealed
Increase the amount of bedding being used
Feed sows and gilts to body condition
Re-instate the winter feed curve
Provide 14 to 16 hours of light per day, of a minimum of 200 lux, from the beginning of August. Install a light timer, consider introducing more lights into dark houses and wash existing bulbs. Whitewashing walls/tents will also reflect light
Provide more physical boar contact pre- and post-service to provide ongoing support for the maintenance of pregnancy and to detect cycling sows.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pig industry feed crisis updates

BPEX has created a special feed crisis centre with updates and advice for pig producers including latest price information, cost calculators and practical advice on maintaining efficiency and reducing feed waste on the farm.

Feed costs have again spiked due to global weather patterns and pig producers are facing large losses as the price they are paid is well below the cost of production. Latest estimated figures show it currently costs around 170p per kg to raise a pig, but at present producers are being paid just 150p per kg – an unsustainable position.

It’s important producers are not tempted to scrimp on feed quantity or quality. They should speak to their nutritionist to ensure they are using optimal diet specifications and feeding strategies.

Simple things to do on a day-to-day basis are make sure feed is not being wasted are to check that hoppers and feeders are set correctly to reduce feed loss through slatted floors.

It’s also worth considering reducing pig slaughter weight, to reduce cost of production through enhanced feed conversion ratio. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

2TS conference dates and venues confirmed

The BPEX 2TS Focus on Finishing conferences will run in four locations this autumn, with two new venues for producers in the South West and the Midlands.

  • Monday 22 October Exeter Racecourse
  • Tuesday 23 October Dunsley Hall Hotel, West Midlands
  • Wednesday 24 October Diss Rugby Club
  • Thursday 25 October Wetherby Racecourse
The programme will feature pig producers and technical experts plus live audience voting and the results of this year’s 2TS Finisher Challenge.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Don’t lose £s at the final stage

The effort and resources that go into the finished pig should not be lost at the final stage.  Variation among pigs ready for slaughter can significantly affect financial returns.

Producers should look at a minimum of three months worth of abattoir grading information to help understand patterns of variation:
  • Overweight pigs
  • Underweight pigs
  • Out-of-probe-specification pigs.
  • % of pigs in the ‘optimum box’
Common reasons for variation include:

Nutrition and feed management

  • Incorrect diet specification
  •  Inconsistent diet ingredients for co-product and home mixers
  • Inadequate feeding space, depending on system
  •  Lack of clean, constantly accessible water (water intake ensures good feed intake) 
  • Poorly-maintained buildings
  • Below or above optimum stocking density which can lead to compromised growth 
Seasonal Effects
Year on year, there is a trend for probe and carcase weights to be lower during the warmer months and increase going into autumn

Health status

The better the health the more chance the pig has of achieving its genetic potential.

If producers have any concerns about their finisher pig production they should contact their vet, nutritionist or BPEX knowledge transfer manager for more information.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Solutions for low stress summer

Gilts and sows are typically prone to a lower conception rate during the summer months. It harks back to the modern pig’s ancestors; the wild boar would not usually mate at this time. And when the temperature goes up, it can mean additional stress for pigs.

As soon as the temperature rises above 18C the adult pig will need to cool itself. If pigs struggle to stay cool, the farrowing rate can drop by as much as 25%, with a small drop in litter size too.

Some solutions for both indoor and outdoor herds include: serving sows earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler, ensuring good hygiene when serving and washing hands regularly or having gloves at hand. It’s also worth serving an extra 10% of gilts/sows to offset the possible lower conception rate.

Indoor producers, specifically, should also: check insulation, as good insulation keeps the building cooler, make sure fans are clean, in order to operate fully, check water flow rates and consider adding a shower facility for the summer months.
On outdoor units wallows are important: make wallows twice the normal size to ensure all sows/gilts can access them at all times. Wallows need to be liquid, not muddy, to work best – so add clean water daily when very hot. Also, AI doses need to be kept at 16-18C in an insulated container and out of sunlight.