Ag Minister Offers Support to NI Pig Industry

by 5m Editor
27 January 2011, at 11:06am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has welcomed the fact that the EU has stepped in at an early stage with a proposal to offer some support to the pig industry.

The Minister also said she will do what she can to help producers through DARD with officials providing advice and on farm assistance where appropriate.

"We are all aware that the price of pig feed has increased significantly since early autumn and unfortunately due to pressures in the market place the price for pork has been very disappointing," said the Minister. “There is no magic solution but the EU help with Aid for Private Storage is most welcome and will be of help to some producers.

"At the same time it is essential that producers know feed input levels and the costs of production, and this is where I am making my CAFRE Pig Technologists available to give support and advice for those who seek it. Benchmarking in these circumstances is vital so that the farmer can establish the strengths and weakness of their own farm. They can identify where improvements can be made and costs saved as there can be very significant variations in costs from farm to farm.

"When feed costs are at current levels it is important to ensure good feed efficiency by reducing feed wastage achieved by calibrating meal feeders, adjusting stocking density, marketing pigs at the correct weight and meeting factory carcase specification. There are still some producers not using the Pig Grading Information System (PIGIS) and it is very important they do so and this will provide the information they need to improve returns and save costs.

“If cash flow is difficult then producers can consider marketing pigs at a reduced carcase weight but this is only practical on farms with a wide variation in carcase weight, with too many heavy pigs.“

The Minister added that over the past few years technical production efficiency has improved on many farms and it is important to maintain this improvement and pay attention to detail as every 3 saved will make a difference.

“All producers should look at the quantity and quality of rations fed at the different stages. Creep and Link feeds are essential but very expensive so over feeding will add to costs. Home millers and mixers should look at ration formulations and see if any adjustments can be made. At current raw material feed prices maize would be better value in pig rations than wheat," she said.

The Minister went on to say that energy costs such as electricity and diesel also need to be measured and managed. Farmers should conduct an energy audit immediately as again considerable savings can be made.

The Minister concluded: "We stand ready to support our producers to be as efficient as possible, but I also want to call the attention of processors, wholesalers and retailers to the problems in the industry. The current situation is unsustainable, and it will demand action by all concerned, not just farmers, to manage it."