February 22, 2016


Pig producers told: Cull non-productive sows


One way for pig producers to cope with low prices is to stick to a strict culling policy and remove non-productive sows.

"Producers need to continually monitor sow performance and make sure they cull underperformers immediately," Ciarán Carroll, head of the pig development department of Teagasc (Ireland's Agriculture and Food Development Authority), told UK pig producers recently during AHDB Pork's webinar on 'getting through tough times'. AHDB Pork is a division of the UK's Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board.


Carroll calculated that 10 extra empty days per litter in the UK, for example, costs £27,000 (US$38,566) a year for a 500-sow herd, with one empty day costing £2.30 ($3.30).


Moreover, he said that in the finishing herd, where 60% of all feed costs is attributed, cost savings can be made by minimising feed wastage, adding that one feeder could have a staggering 12 tonnes of food passing through it in a year.


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, he said.


According to Carroll, a 4% reduction in finisher feed wasted is worth £1.55 ($2.21) per pig, which adds up to £19,000 (27,146) for a 500-sow herd.


Other ways to weather the storm are for producers to examine slaughter weights, farm energy use and loan or overdraft options.


"Accurate measuring and monitoring throughout the herd are really important as producers must keep focused on what they can control, i.e., what's happening inside the farm gate", Carroll said.

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