BPEX blog

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Weighing pigs is worth the effort

More pig producers should ‘bite the bullet’ and weigh their growing pigs to cut lost earnings, was the conclusion from our 2TS Focus on Finishing conferences.

Joao Cavaco Rodrigues, swine business unit manager at Elanco, said that up to 30% of pigs can fail to reach target weight at slaughter, whether that is because of mortality, culls or poor growth resulting in ‘light’ pigs. 

Because losses happen gradually, producers are often not even aware of them and it can be difficult to pinpoint where in the cycle they occur.

Weighing pigs at each stage of production provides the information to spot trends and issues. There is extra labour involved in weighing pigs, but it doesn’t have to be every pig in every batch. Producers can get valuable information by weighing just one group of pigs at each stage as a one-off exercise or an exercise they do each year, for example.

You have to diagnose the problem first in order to find the solution. Once producers have identified when and where performance is dipping, they can target changes to that part of the system to improve health and growth efficiency.

All the speakers’ presentations, including regional pig producers’ can be downloaded here.  

Friday, 26 October 2012

Low-cost ways to stop disease in its tracks

The 2TS Focus on Finishing conferences are well underway this week. One of the speakers, Yolande Seddon, is a research fellow at the Canadian Prairie Swine Centre and has highlighted the problem of subclinical disease: it can’t actually be seen and yet it can cause considerable growth losses in the finishing herd.
BUT, the good news is there is a lot that can be done (and at a low cost) to reduce the impact of subclinical disease.

Monitoring water consumption, using simple health scores – like recording the amount of coughing – and weighing pigs regularly can all identify trends.

Weighing pigs is definitely worth the time, as it targets where to make changes which can, ultimately, mean less overall effort for greater results. So, if producers are to start doing just one new thing straight away, then biting the bullet and weighing some pigs is what Yolande suggests!

Yolande also spoke about exciting work with the team at the University of Newcastle, measuring immune proteins in pig saliva to help spot subclinical disease.

Saliva was collected by providing pigs with ropes to chew on – much easier and cheaper than blood sampling. The concentrations of immune proteins in saliva samples were related to reductions in pig growth.
Researchers at Newcastle and AHVLA are continuing this work so that, soon, saliva sampling could offer a low-cost disease surveillance method.

Click here to read more in Yolande’s full presentation.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Every unit can achieve pigs’ full potential

Elanco’s Full Value Pig (FVP) concept has been a great way for producers to get involved with the 2TS Finisher Challenge and improve performance.
I’ve worked with six different farms on FVP projects. Doing this exercise can identify areas where pigs are under-performing that you would not have spotted otherwise.  On several farms we have found that specific groups of pigs are not always achieving their potential and that is regardless of whether they started as the heaviest or lightest pigs at weaning.

Suitable interventions to achieve more of this potential can then be made, for example: flow changes, reducing movements and sizing of pigs. Producers weigh pigs at different stages from birth through to finishing, with help from Elanco and BPEX. The data is analysed by Elanco and the BPEX KT manager helps the producers interpret it. 

Find out more about it at our 2TS Focus on Finishing conferences next week – view my video invitation here!  
If you’re interested in an FVP exercise on your farm, please contact me or your local KT manager.  

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Alternative bedding options – worth considering?

If producers are concerned that cereal straw availability may be limited, they could consider alternative bedding. Bedding materials should be comfortable to lie on, non-abrasive, non-slippery, highly absorbent and have low levels of environmental bacteria and mycotoxin contamination. There is more information in BPEX Knowledge Transfer Bulletin 15: http://www.bpex.org.uk/publications/2TS/KTBulletins.aspx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Strategic De-stocking Guidance

BPEX has published guidance for pig producers on:
  • strategic de-stocking
  •  reviewing slaughter weight decisions.
The cost of pig production has rocketed as a result of high feed prices and, with the pig price not moving upwards enough to cover this, many pig producers are thinking hard about what direction their businesses should take.
Some may be thinking of taking the opportunity to conduct a ‘de-pop, re-pop’ to address underlying health challenges, while others may be considering ending pig production altogether.
The factsheet we’ve put together on strategic de-stocking is to help ensure it is managed in an organised way and optimises financial returns during the process.
The second factsheet provides a table showing the margin over feed cost per 5kg increase in carcase weight at various feed prices, to help producers make a calculated decision on slaughter weights.
Please contact your local BPEX knowledge transfer manager for more detailed help and support on both these topics or click here go to download the factsheets.

Hard copies of the factsheets are available by calling 0247 647 8792.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pig building investment plans? Let us know more..

A new BPEX research project is investigating whether the industry should lobby for grant aid, to encourage greater investment in plant and housing too. But first, BPEX needs to capture some data from producers. 
What are your current investment plans? What would give you the confidence to invest?
Please help by taking the four-minute Pig Buildings on-line survey on the NPA website.