BPEX blog

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wean more pigs to be more profitable

BPEX is re-focusing its efforts on the pig breeding herd with a ‘Breed +3’ initiative to help each herd wean an extra three pigs per sow year. We must help pig producers wean more pigs, if the industry is to manage its output and costs to reach its Two-Tonne Sow (2TS) target.

British pig producers are efficient at finishing pigs but are not producing enough pigs in the first place. Although progress has made in physical performance, a big gap remains between Britain and the rest of Europe.

Our aim is to help every producer move towards an extra three pigs per sow per year weaned, whether they’re currently about average at 23 pigs weaned or if they’re already at 27 and want to get to 30.

We have identified some priorities to help achieve this. Keeping performance records and, importantly, spending time understanding the data is something that high-performing businesses have in common. As is doing all the ‘small’ daily things to a high standard, which is where training and skills development help too.

All businesses, including the top performers, need to keep monitoring how they are doing and keep their finger on the pulse.

Let us know your questions and comments on achieving this target either by using the comments section below or contacting us directly.

Local knowledge transfer meetings for pig producers this year will follow the Breed +3 theme, covering topics including: performance recording, gilt management, litter management and staff communication. BPEX will also be exploring new knowledge, innovations and technologies, offering producers the chance to see them first hand on farms in the UK and abroad.

There is already a wealth of practical information on the BPEX website

Monday, 18 February 2013

Know your pig numbers

We want to encourage and help more farms make use of performance data in the daily routine to generate more pounds and pence on the bottom line.

Keeping performance records and investing time in interpreting them is a priority for high-performing pig businesses.

National herd performance data for producers are updated every quarter at: www.bpex.org.uk/prices-facts-figures/ The online tables show how the industry’s performance is progressing towards the Two-Tonne Sow target and enable producers to compare their own figures.

Contact the knowledge transfer team for help and information on recording:

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A young herd is the most productive

A pig unit should aim for at least 45% of sows to be in parities three to five, as these are the most productive animals. 20–25% of production should be from gilts so it is important there are enough gilts available to serve.

To calculate the target annual replacement rate, producers need to decide what the target number of litters per sow lifetime is, ie an average lifetime of five parities. If the farrowing index is 2.33 litters per year, the whole herd turnover is calculated as 5 / 2.33 = 2.15 years. So target annual replacement rate will be 100 / 2.15 = 46.5%. Actual replacement rate is the number of served gilts introduced expressed as a % of the average herd size for the year. Alternatively, multiply the average number of served gilts (% of the herd) by the farrowing index, ie 20.5% x 2.33 = 47.8%.

The higher the litters per sow per year and the lower target litters per lifetime, the higher the replacement rate will be. The cost implications also need to be monitored and evaluated.

Feel free to contact me directly or comment below if you’d like more information on this.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Alternative approach to ‘vet and med’ training…

The ‘Stockman Somerset’ training group played a game modelled on the BBC3 programme Snog, Marry, Avoid when it met for its first session this week. Not what they expected perhaps?!

But the game of ‘Sell, Treat, Kill’ turned out to be popular with trainees, helping them decide how best to manage the ill or injured pigs they saw pictured during the training. Annie Davis from The George Veterinary Group led the session and also covered the correct use, handling, storage and disposal of pig medicines. 

Service management is the next topic for the group when it meets again on 19 February in Shepton Mallet.
Look up the BPEX Stockman Development page on Facebook if you’d like to join the group of stockmen from around the country online: http://www.facebook.com/BpexStockman