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Most Pig Units Monitoring On-line Within a Decade

1 November 2013, at 9:30am

UK - Within ten years, most professional pig units will be on line and monitoring such factors as temperature, water, feed, growth and pig flow.

Indeed, one pig farmer has already described that farming without monitoring is “like farming blind”, Hugh Crabtree, managing director of Farmex, told a conference on Precision Pig Production organised by RASE, at Harrogate, Yorkshire.

“You can’t control what you don’t measure and, happily, a new generation of pig producers is recognising this,” he said.

He explained that the independent PIVIT (Pig Improvement Via Technology) project, started at the beginning of 2012, which aimed to find out how producers and stock-people could gain commercial advantage from monitoring, was already beginning to bear fruit. Achievable improvements included a reduction of 5-10 days in time taken to finish pigs, a narrowing in variation, a 50 per cent reduction in fossil fuel use and an 80 per cent cut in water waste.

The impact of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) or ‘smart’ pig farming would result in less variation between herds. Mr Crabtree suggested that, with monitoring, 90 per cent of the national herd should aim for the level of performance achieved by the current top 10 per cent of herds. This would mean feed conversion would improve from 2.72 to 2.21, daily liveweight gain from 822g to 839g per day, with feed costs per pig produced dropping from the current BPEX-recorded average of £41.11 to £25.

Monitoring had already seen electricity consumption drop from 40 kWh to 16 kWh per pig and electricity cost per pig produced drop from an average of £3.51 to £1.41 on farms using Farmex’s ‘Barn Report’ data capturing system.

Monitoring also enabled pig farmers to check their units’ performance ‘live’ so that potential problems could be highlighted and adjustments made on a day-to-day basis.

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