20 Sep 2016, 15:10 PM
AHDB Pork Blog
I’d always wanted to visit Australia to see how their outdoor pig industry deals with heat and water issues, so when I was invited to do just that with a group of producers from East Anglia’s Fram Farmers, I jumped at the opportunity!
Seven of us travelled out to Western Australia. We had a packed itinerary, with over 11 farm visits and two meetings scheduled, so there wasn’t much time for sitting back and soaking up the sun!
With so many farm visits and meetings with producers, it’s hard to pick just a few things to talk about, but, as I’m sure you don’t have all day, I’ll pick a few areas that I think will interest readers.
Firstly, water management. Collecting and storing water in large tanks is a common sight in Australia. Despite the use of boreholes, water still needs to be collected as the borehole water can often be salty. Some units we visited had two water lines, one with salty water, supplying the wallows, and another taking the purer water to the troughs; the more common practice, however, was to make a ‘shandy’ mix of the two. One unit we visited recorded usage between 10,000 – 45,000 litres/day and had spent $60,000 on the system!
Next, arc design.With increased demand for outdoor pork in Australia, opportunities for new entrants to meet this demand was evident. We came across some producers who had interpreted traditional systems in their own unique way, designing farrowing arcs from scratch.
Many had full-width rear vents, which also served as shades. The combination of a high ceilings, large, full-sized doorways and full-width shaded vents meant airflow was good and the temperature acceptable, despite being 28°C outside. One unit used flaps made from mining belting instead of fenders, allowing sows in and out of the arc but keeping piglets inside.
Finally, another thing which stood out was how one business carried out staff appraisals. The whole team, including the manager/owner, gathers, before taking it in turns to leave the room while the rest of the team appraise them. A little different to how things tend to be done over here! Importantly, the process is led by a third-party facilitator to ensure there is a clear structure.
Some of the photos from my trip can be found here: http://pork.ahdb.org.uk/news/photo-stories/
By AHDBPork at 20 Sep 2016, 15:10 PM