BPEX blog

Thursday, 29 November 2012

How creep can help save feed costs

Creep feeding pigs is one of several ways to reduce overall feed costs, discussed by nutritionist Dr Steve Jagger from ABN during our latest live online workshop.

Steve said that: ”Starter feed for pre-weaning piglets is small proportion of all feed costs at 4% and the improved growth post-weaning means it is well worth it.

“One trial showed that piglets eating 4.55kg each of starter feed are worth £1.21 more per pig, as margin over feed, than piglets eating just 3.89kg each.”

This equated to a saving of £266 per tonne of overall feed costs, because the pigs’ feed conversion efficiency, growth rate and value at slaughter were improved, without intakes of grower feed having to increase significantly in the later stages.

Steve continued to show how priorities change at different stages between birth and slaughter. “It is important to know the growth curve for your particular unit. For, example, there are major differences in dietary requirements in the late finishing stage, especially when taking pigs to higher slaughter weights, so producers could consider a late finishing diet.

“We should also be feeding pigs according to current, achieved performance at each stage. High specification diets can have a lot higher potential than is actually being achieved. Once you’ve assessed requirements you can adjust the feeding programme, try an alternative diet or maybe increase the number of diets. The aim is to reduce oversupply of nutrients to therefore reduce feed costs and improve efficiency.”

Steve concluded with how important it is to measure growth performance and feed usage. “There should be a continual cycle of measurement and improvement.”

If you have any questions or thoughts on this, please use the comments box below and, to find out more about more, download the presentation and listen to the workshop here

Friday, 23 November 2012

Finisher Challenge champions

Congratulations to Chris Leamon, overall national winner of the 2TS Finisher Challenge and winner in the east.

Chris improved his finisher herd’s FCR by 24%, average daily gain by 10.5% and mortality by 28%. He has a 320-sow breed-to-finish unit in Essex and uses a liquid feeding system.

During the Challenge, Chris decided to improve pig flow and reduce the number of movements postweaning from four moves down to two, for most pigs. The change in flow has also allowed all rooms to be all-in, all-out and Chris is now able to clean and disinfect all rooms between batches.
Chris has also upgraded some of his old grower accommodation, as he needed more weaner accommodation, and now can wean into those rooms too. Pigs are then thinned down and gradually moved to fully-slatted grower-finisher accommodation where they stay until slaughter. All pigs remain in the same group from weaning through to slaughter.

Another change Chris made was to increase the dry matter of his feed.

Ian Juffs was the regional Challenge winner in the south and Philip Sanderson was the winner in the north. Click here for more.

Monday, 19 November 2012

High-performance buildings: one producer’s view

Richard Smith, former production manager at Bedfordia Livestock, told producers at our 2TS Focus on Finishing conferences about what they had done and learned while building a new finisher unit. 

Here are some key considerations he discussed for other producers thinking about updating or building new finisher pig accommodation.

  • They allowed 10 metres between each building to help facilitate good ventilation and installed automatically controlled natural ventilation (ACNV)
  • They chose fully-slatted plastic flooring for the ‘stage one’ and ‘stage two’ finisher pens but, with hindsight, would now put concrete slats in the ‘stage two’ pens for pigs of 35kg upwards
  • Consider feeding liquid co-products
  • Their liquid feeding system has probes to monitor feed usage and help keep it flowing and fresh
  • Operate an ‘all in, all out’ system
  • Plan pig flow well in advance with enough pig places to allow for genetic improvement in the breeding herd.

Go to www.bpex.org.uk/news/events/focusonfinishing to view Richard’s full presentation. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

‘Virtual pig farming’ course – the next challenge

We’ve devised a new Stockman Plus course for this autumn to build on the practical skills and industry knowledge gained in the Stockman Development scheme and/or their previous practical experience. The more advanced course will include problem solving exercises which will be applied to a virtual farm to allow trainees to see the outcome of decisions taken.

Following the success of the Stockman Development courses run across all regions, we feel that these trainees are ready for this as their next challenge!

The Stockman Development and BPEX Institute of Leadership and Management courses are also back for a third year.

The Stockman Development course combines training in practical pig husbandry with visits to feed mills and abattoirs.

The Institute of Leadership and Management course is to help supervisors and managers improve their people management and build their confidence when leading others. Specially-selected modules enable trainees to learn different management techniques and work together to decide on the best ways to handle various situations.
All three courses are flexible: participants can choose particular sessions to attend, subject to availability, or sign up for the whole course.

For more information and how to register, producers should call me or their local BPEX knowledge transfer manager or BPEX assistant skills manager Samantha Bowsher: 07976 980753 or samantha.bowsher@bpex.ahdb.org.uk