Creep control's a key cost benefit

UK - More than half of uk pig farmers have no form of creep-heating control - apart from turning the power off. Furthermore, the control switches on a large proportion of creeps that do have the option, don't actually work.
calendar icon 25 May 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

These are the astonishing findings of a study carried out by Farmex, the Reading-based farm energy and control specialists.

"Given the huge rises in electricity prices, the cost of running farrowing rooms is increasingly hard to ignore. It makes up a huge chunk of the total electricity budget on the average pig farm," said Farmex director Nick Bird.

This energy waste is actually a bigger issue in summer rather than in winter. The heat lamps use the same amount of energy, unnecessarily, and the piglets actually get too hot, move away and so overlying losses are greater. He says that sows get too warm as well and appetites fall. Consequently, condition and milk production suffers, resulting in lower litter weights.

"Some producers have changed from lamps to heat pads or lower wattage bulbs, but indications are that this reduces electricity consumption far less than they expect," he added.

Most producers should aim to reduce electricity costs by £1 per week - down from £2.20 to £1.50 per farrowing place by investing in proper control equipment. On this basis it's worth spending £200 per place to see a return in less than five years.

"If you can improve performance as well then you are quids in," adds Nick. He says that improving pre-weaning mortality by 4 per cent is worth 60p per week and raising average weaner weight by 0.5 kg, worth a further £1.25 per week per farrowing place which is very valuable revenue.

"At the moment pig farmers are reluctant to spend money because they don't realise what improvements they could make. Increasing profits through better farrowing house management makes good creep control a great investment opportunity, generating a return to the industry worth several £millions of per year," he said.

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