Pig group a success

This season's East Anglian pig producer groups, funded by BPEX, came to a close recently, with a successful farm walk.

Over the past few months, Jonathan Bradley has facilitated a series of discussion meetings and farm walks across the region on BPEX's behalf, providing producers and stockmen alike plenty to think about when it comes to efficient pig production. In fact, some producers have improved their system as a direct result.

During this time, some of the topics producers have learnt more about include farrowing management, gilt management, service layouts and making the change from being a breeder/feeder to a BQP finisher. Farm walks have been a key part of the programme, helping people see the practical aspects of production on units different to their own. The most recent farm tour, organised by the East of England Pig Training Group (EEPTG), attracted more than 40 producers and stockmen to a Stamper Farms unit, run by Colin Stone.

According to Bradley: "It's easier for managers and owners to get away from their units, but much harder for stockmen, so the meetings provide an ideal opportunity for them to get together. However, they are not just a social occasion. They give farmers the chance to share their problems, see the way other producers do things and often, as a result, change what they do.

"At one of the meetings I learnt a very simple and much more efficient way to wash down and disinfect. I now use a rotating nozzle on my turbo-lance, which has saved me 25% of my time."

Some of the changes producers have made include:

· Making gilts at least 230 days at service

· Changing service layouts - most producers in the area have opted to have two tents, one service and one holding

· Making stock tasks easier, such as picking up sows first at weaning

· Installing sprinklers to help keep pens cleaner

Colin Stone added: "One of the main topics for discussion at all the meetings has been the PCV2 vaccine. It is really useful to learn how other producers use them and how effective they think they are. It certainly gives us something to go back to our own units with.

"I think the meetings are particularly useful for our stockmen. They are really beginning to talk about training and look at the options out there and how they can improve. This is very encouraging for managers like myself."