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30 December 2016 10:01:26 |Animal Health,News,Pigs

Focus Farm achieves 61 per cent in pre-weaning mortality reduction


The Focus Farm is centred on ‘hands-on’ involvement and aims to improve physical and financial pig performance

The Focus Farm is centred on ‘hands-on’ involvement and aims to improve physical and financial pig performance

The AHDB Pork Focus Farm has achieved a 61% reduction in pre-weaning mortality just six months in.
This result is being attributed to improvements in farrowing house management, staff training and the use of ultra-high frequency ear tags to record accurately causes of death.
The Focus Farm initiative, a first-of-its-kind for the English pig industry, aims to help improve physical and financial performance on units through knowledge transfer between producers.
An industry-led project, the Focus Farm offers the opportunity for farmers, vets and industry experts to discuss challenges facing the pig industry through open discussions and tours of commercial units.
Dominic Charman, Technical Manager at AHDB Pork, said: “The significant drop from 15% to 5.8%, that we’ve seen on David Goodier’s unit, could result in an extra 586 pigs finished per annum.
“Further work is underway and the results of that will be presented at the next meeting taking place on Monday 27 February at the Bridge Hotel, Wetherby LS22 5HS. The start time will be 6:00pm to finish at 9:30pm.”
Ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags
Dominic said David’s vet, Tom Iveson, carried out a two-day staff training course on the farm to help reduce pre-weaning mortality.
“Tom worked with David and his team to help refine the unit’s split-suckling management strategy and farrowing house routine.”
Following this, ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags were introduced to collect and monitor individual pig data, including reasons for and causes of death, as part of the Focus Farm project.
“We’ve tagged and weighed four batches of piglets since August, and last week we saw the first 40 pigs go through the abattoir.
“This is the first time that UHF tags have been used successfully throughout the entire supply chain and at slaughter they provide the ability to combine herd and slaughter level data to give days to slaughter and growth rates.”
Dominic said the use of tags had also allowed the team carefully to examine dead piglets.
“We’ve been recording the cause of death for all piglets and I believe this has been key to understanding the issues and has helped with targeted treatment. What’s more, handling and monitoring the pigs more closely has meant that any problems have been ‘nipped in the bud’.
“We’re going to implement further training which will hopefully help reduce the pre-weaning mortality rate further, especially given the likely increase in litter size following other breeding herd changes, and we’ll work with David to review his pig flow. This will all be unveiled at the next Focus Farm meeting.”
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