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AHDB Pork Blog

Once more unto the breach…. By Dominic Charman


So, we’re back to farrowing week at the Focus Farm…… back to tagging and weighing every individual piglet. In truth, I enjoy field work, any excuse to get on a pair of wellies and I’m there like a shot. It presents a good opportunity to get hands-on and I always find out more by being on the unit, talking to staff and handling animals than by looking at a sheet of figures (it also reminds me of a time when I didn’t to go to meetings quite so often…ahhh....those were the days). It also presents the challenge of carrying out semi-scientific work on a commercial unit, one of the finest things in life…… a mental challenge in wellies. It’s essential to collect the data accurately, while not disturbing the day-to-day operation of the unit (otherwise, quite understandably, we rapidly become somewhat unpopular). 

The information we will get back from tagging these pigs is more than worth the time, effort and the cost of the tags, at around 30 pence per pig. The first thing we will use them to understand is what’s causing David’s relatively high pre-weaning mortality, as we record cause of death for ‘named’ piglets. 

Following on, we will be able to track, on an individual basis, the DLWG, days to bacon, slaughter weights and P2s. The abattoir David sends his pigs to, has fitted UHF tag reading equipment which comes online in the next few weeks, specifically for this trial. 

We will be able to look at the effects of birth weight, sow parity, seasonal influences and much more on all of these metrics. It will allow us to track in detail the impact of any alterations made on David’s unit, which come as suggestions from the industry to improve his performance, reduce his costs or otherwise have a positive impact on his business. 

Remember, this is a Focus Farm for the industry, not for AHDB Pork, so get amongst it, get involved, challenge us, challenge David (he loves it) and come and see us at the next meeting on 17 October.

By AHDB Pork at 24 Aug 2016, 09:28 AM


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