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Pig Producers Urged to Save Money by Removing Non-productive Sows

18 February 2016, at 12:00am

UK - Pig producers coping with low prices are urged to make sure they stick to a strict culling policy and remove non-productive sows.

Ciarán Carroll, head of Teagasc’s pig development department, was speaking to UK pig producers during AHDB Pork’s webinar on ‘getting through tough times’.

He calculated that 10 extra empty days per litter costs £27,000 a year for a 500-sow herd, with one empty day costing £2.30.

“Producers need to continually monitor sow performance and make sure they cull underperformers immediately,” Ciarán said. “Don’t try to restore condition."

While, in the finishing herd, where 60 per cent of all feed costs is attributed, cost savings can be made by minimising feed wastage. One feeder could have a staggering 12 tonnes of food passing through it in a year.

Practical steps, including keeping feeders in good repair and adjusting them regularly so that the trough is not full of stale feed, will minimise wastage, in addition to maintaining the right stocking rate with pigs per feeding place. According to Ciaran, a four per cent reduction in finisher feed wasted is worth £1.55 per pig, which adds up to £19,000 for a 500-sow herd.

Examining slaughter weights, farm energy use and loan or overdraft options are all further ways Ciarán highlights for producers to help weather the storm.

A price recovery later in the year, led by the EU pig price, is possible but the scale and pace of this is uncertain, said AHDB Pork analyst Stephen Howarth, as he summarised market prospects during the webinar.

In the meantime, Ciarán said: “Accurate measuring and monitoring throughout the herd are really important as producers must keep focused on what they can control, ie what’s happening inside the farm gate.”

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