BPEX blog

Monday, 23 June 2014

Piglet weight increasing as stockmanship improves

Pig stockpeople are improving both pig productivity and their own skills, helped along by the BPEX Stockman Development Scheme and Stockman Plus courses which we ran in the north and east this year.

Stockman Callum Musgrave said the Stockman Development Scheme (North) had increased his awareness that even the smallest things matter. “One of the key things I’ve changed is to focus on temperature in farrowing house as it’s really important for sow performance. I check the temperature regularly throughout the day to make sure it’s constant and also check the sows have eaten their feed and are comfortable and not panting.  

“We’ve now just started getting more feed into sows and increasing piglet weight.  Enhanced knowledge has made me a much better stockman.”

Through the Stockman Development Scheme we're aiming both to improve technical knowledge, via pig production workshops, and also provide understanding of the pig supply chain through visits to feed mills and abattoirs.  The workshop topics include: veterinary and medicines, farrowing management and establishing the weaned pig. The Stockman Plus scheme is the next level up and focuses on problem-solving exercises as well as building up pig husbandry knowledge.

Importantly, for trainees at both levels, the chance to get together regularly at training sessions enables everyone to share, improve and learn from the changes they’ve tried out back on their units. 

There is more information on the full range of courses and skills development activities, from stockman up to unit manager level, on the BPEX website here.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Focus on ‘the three Rs’ to tackle seasonality

Given the last few winters we’ve had, it’s hardly surprising that sows do not want to farrow during the colder months. 

But there are measurements producers can take this summer to give real-time information about ‘at risk’ sows, so that their management can be 
adapted and reproductive loss reduced.

Roundness, returns and replacements, ‘the three Rs’, are the key areas to focus on recording. Specifics include:
  • Body condition scoring at farrowing and weaning identifies sows that are at risk of losing condition during lactation
  • A fertility chart gives a real-time farrowing rate record and identifies when sows are returning
  • Recording dates of oestrus on simple recording sheets and colour coding gilts using spray marker (pictured) helps keep track of replacement gilts coming into the system. 
Read more in this month’s BPEX Pink Pages, here, which is published monthly in Pig World magazine. 

And for further technical information and factsheets on breeding herd management click here