Pig producers advised on cost-saving strategies

To help overcome the challenge of low prices currently facing the pig industry, producers have been advised to stick to a strict culling policy and remove non-productive sows. 

This was suggested by Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority, Teagasc, during AHDB Pork’s webinar ‘getting through tough times’.

Ciarán Carroll, head of Teagasc’s pig development department, 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,” said Carroll. “Don’t try to restore condition.”

According to AHDB Pork, the finishing herd contributes to 60% of all feed costs, with potential savings being made by minimising feed wastage. It was claimed that one feeder could have 12 tonnes of food passing through it in a year.

The webinar audience was told that steps such as keeping feeders in good repair whilst regularly adjusting them to ensure that the trough is not full of stale feed, will further minimise wastage. Another method to keep cost down is to maintain the right stocking rate with pigs per feeding place.

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

Meanwhile, examining slaughter weights, farm energy use and loan or overdraft options are yet more ways highlighted by Carroll to help producers get through this challenging period.

“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 farmgate,” added Carroll.

Stephen Howarth, AHDB Pork analyst, also explained that a price recovery later in the year, led by the EU pig price, is possible, although the scale and pace of this is uncertain.

The webinar featured Jonathan Eckley from AHDB’s export team highlighting the opportunities for UK pork sales to overseas to help support the price. The full recording session can be listened to at: pork.ahdb.org.uk/events/ahdb-pork-webinars/

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