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Jenny Waddington

Media and PR Manager

AHDB Pork Levy Payer Communications


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Save thousands by removing non-productive sows

Home \ News \ News Releases \ 2016 \ February \ Save thousands by removing non-productive sows

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% 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.” 

To listen to the full webinar recording, which also featured Jonathan Eckley from AHDB’s export team highlighting the opportunities for UK pork sales overseas to help support the price, go to:  

For more information on managing production costs and for details of forthcoming regional meetings on the topic, go to the ‘tackling tough times’ area on the AHDB Pork website at: