Teagasc Urges Pig Farmers Urged to Cut Input Costs

IRELAND - Pressurised pig farmers can reduce input costs by up to €20 per tonne by increasing their use of cheaper feeds, culling earlier and availing of feed credit from banks, say Teagasc experts.
calendar icon 19 October 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

Farmers at yesterday’s Teagasc National Pig Conference in the Cavan Crystal Hotel were shown a series of cost-cutting measures to help them grapple with the soaring cost of animal feed — up 30 per cent in the past year alone.

A second half-day conference takes place from 2pm this afternoon in the Horse & Jockey Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Teagasc specialist pig advisor Ciaran Carroll said: "The sector has been under huge pressure for the past 18 months due to high feed prices in Europe. When feed accounts for 70 per cent of your total production costs, any change in feed price hits you hard.

"As Irish farmers have to cover the transfer costs from Amsterdam, we are paying 12c more per kilo than other Europeans. It will take a number of factors to give pig farmers any chance of closing that gap."

Mr Carroll outlined the savings to be gained from earlier culling.

He was followed by talks from fellow Teagasc experts — Michael McKeon analysed feed ingredient supply and price prospects, Peadar Lawlor outlined strategies to reduce feed costs, while Maria Walsh gave updates on the GMSafeFOOD project, which is looking at the use of genetically modified (GM) feed in pig diets.

Ciaran Carroll said: "Basically, the research found that using GM animal feeds did not lead to any reduction in performance. I don’t know why we are so slow in moving on GM in Ireland.

"We have also looked at the cost of manure treatment in relation to anaerobic digestion, but we have found that for now land-spreading is still the most cost-effective approach."

Farmers were also given presentations on accessing feed credit, Irish Examiner.com reports. Banking sector speakers included Anne-Marie Butler of Ulster Bank and Pat Butterly of AIB.

Pig farmers attending yesterday’s conference were concerned about the threat of yet further rises in animal feed.

The European Commission recently issued a worrying Short Term Outlook warning that European pig farmers are facing a "critical time".

The EU report warned that Germany’s dioxin tainting scandal early in 2011 made an "already difficult market situation" even worse for farmers in EU member states.

EU inventories of wheat and other cereals remain "relatively tight" and could be heading for further reductions, notably in barley stocks.

This could lead to further price pressures.

The Teagasc Pig Development Department is advising farmers attending the events on how these challenges can be confronted through tight management of input costs.

With 2013 looming, pig farmers are being given guidance on the key components of good loose dry sow housing systems. This is linked to the presentation on optimum sow culling strategy.

Meanwhile, the ‘Two Tonne Sow’, first coined at the Teagasc 2009 conference is being revisited with a twist at the conferences. Teagasc director Prof Gerry Boyle is also presenting certs to attendees of the first ever FETAC level 6 pig course.

Further Reading

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