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The Winds of Change by Mike Shattock

Mike ShattockGosh, how time flies when embarking on a new chapter in life. I started with AHDB mid-November and have hit the ground running – just how I like it.

The highlight from my first six weeks has got to be the transformation I have seen in the pig industry since I was last here, some 20 years ago. It was also a great privilege to visit a new piggery that had just been built in France. The greatest impression of this I-TEK, 270-sow, wean-to-finish unit, was the compactness of the piggery and the factory-like appearance. The only structure that gave away that it was a piggery was the feed silo! Another interesting factor here was that it had been built for our host’s nephew, enabling some generous grants and soft loans to be accessed through a scheme for emerging young farmers.

This visit got me thinking, is this the way to go in the UK? I know it is early days of me being back in the UK, but it is quite noticeable how many older-designed piggeries still exist around the country. Despite this, some good results are being achieved, indoors and outdoors alike. This can only be put down to good management and stockmanship, along with genetic improvement, nutrition and good health status on farm.

The pig clubs I’ve attended since joining the team have been particularly interesting, especially when we had producer David Goodier giving a presentation on his 250-sow unit and what being involved as a Strategic Farm with AHDB has entailed. Plenty of discussion came to the fore and ideas were swopped and debated; to me this is key to sailing the ‘Winds of Change’ happening in our industry.

Being involved with AHDB has been enlightening and the future holds interesting challenges for pig farmers and the industry alike. Upcoming projects like Gilt Watch are going to be really interesting when feedback starts to filter in and focus points like water quality are going to be investigated. It is sometimes the simplest things in production that can make a huge impact on profitability.


By AHDB Pork at 15 Jan 2018, 11:01 AM

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