More than 500 pig farmers from all over the Province together with several from the South visited the Agricultural Research Institute at Hillsborough last week for a final public viewing of the impressive housing arrangements being made for the establishment of a minimal disease herd in the autumn.
In contrast to the general demonstrations of previous years, Wednesday’s open day reverted to a specialised format revolving solely on the pig enterprise.
While the MD herd development attracted most attention, the lectures, demonstrations and discussion afterwards completed a very full afternoon’s activity with the sudden break in weather conditions towards the end the only disappointing note.
Speaking on “Profitable weaner production,” Dr R W H Elsely of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, said two main approaches were available to increase profits in this field.
First productivity of the sow measured in terms of numbers of pigs born per year and their weight at weaning might be increased and secondly total feed costs could be reduced.
“Evidence is presented which indicates that the number of pigs born per litter is not closely controlled by nutrition but is affected by management at the time of service and by the uterine environment,” Dr Elsely stated.
“It can be shown that a wide range in both feed intake and protein intake has no effect on number of pigs born, there is no obvious relationship between post natal mortality and nutrition of the sow, and therefore the number of pigs weaned per litter is largely a measure of the management skill of the farmer.
“The average birth weight of the pigs can be affected by nutrition and increases in feed intake or more particularly of energy intake, will result in an increase in average birth weight.
Increase in feed intake of 3½lb of feed per sow per day during pregnancy only however, increased average birth weight by 0.4lb. If the pregnancy diet had a protein concentration of 12 per cent or more the level of protein intake had little effect on the foetal growth of the piglet.
High intakes in pregnancy also resulted in slightly higher milk production in the subsequent lactation but again large increases in feed intake in pregnancy were required to produce comparatively small increases in the weaning weight of the pigs.