Sam Walton’s Pig Fair round-up

I never know what to expect at the Pig Fair, but I thought two years ago that it would be a bit dismal and so it was, writes Sam Walton.

I just had a suspicion this year that there would be a bit of a buzz around the place, and so it proved to be judging by the number of visitors to the Pig World stand. It’s a long time since I saw such confidence, and that was clear to see by the crowded stands everywhere on the first day. Those who attended on the second had just a tad more time to talk things over.

So what caught your eye? I can’t in all honesty say there was anything major that would revolutionise the industry, but whenever the Pig Fair is held, there’s always one or two small things that will help in one way or another.

There does seem to be increasing interest in biomass systems, already popular in the poultry industry, plus two more things on the power side which I saw a number of stands exhibiting were solar panel systems and LED lighting.

We have said before that all these things would be of interest to the pig producer, and I’m 100% confident that they will.

Plastic panels have played a large part in the development of housing as they’re light and easy to fit and to clean. Arato had a new breed of panels made on the Continent and it also showed a new feed trough with panel divisions that gives pigs a feeling of security while eating.

Several firms had new designs for feeders, and different ways of adjusting the feed supply. Another invention which seems to grow in number each time is the freedom crate. You can now have them containerised as shown by Finrone. Jetwash also displayed its versions, while another that took my eye was the Jyden model from Denmark, where the system has been in use for 10 years. There was also one on the New Quip Big Dutchman stand, and there may well have been others too.

We have seen rubber mats before, but Mayo Mats from the Republic of Ireland are not rubber but made of a compound that’s extremely light, meaning they can be easily lifted. They’re already being used in piglet creeps in Denmark. They’re easy to clean, they apparently have water in them within the compound and retain heat easily.

I thought they would be ideal to fit on the floor in outdoor arks, where the straw could be put on top of them – particularly when the arks are on concrete. They have an expected life of about 20 years.

East Riding Farm Services is always at the forefront when new ideas appear. It now has the first new iron injection to come to UK in 19 years. Named Ferroferon, it is a Gleptoferron, registered POM and VPS for a 1ml dose. Similarly ERFS had a new block – Porcibloc – that pigs can lick. It’s about seven inches square and hangs in the pen and is approved as a toy. It contains various herbs and flavours and apparently in the pens where they hang, the pigs are not the least bit interested in you if you enter the pen, which seems to point to the fact that the pigs are calmer. By the end of the second day, the company had sold several pallet loads of them.

Con-Tented showed a new, easily-lifted plastic fender that’s attached and detached very simply to the farrowing ark. Tony Walkey, the proprietor, asked passers-by to come and try lifting it and the surprised look on the face of those who did was plain to see how easy and effective it was.

Wet feeding is still big business these days and growing where by-products can be obtained. Wheyfeeds had a display of various products available to help make a balanced ration. Hampshire Feeding Systems is working on the advantages of feeding just water with meal and ways of avoiding the meal settling out. I can’t remember who told me some years ago that there was a 5p/kg cost advantage by doing that rather than feeding meal and water separately.

Knowing how your pigs are growing is an essential part of modern production and ARM had a simple walk-through open weigher and records the weight of pigs walking through which helps you not only to know how much weight is being put on but gives an indication of approaching market weight.

Controlling sow feed when suckling is easily controlled by I-Tek with its unique ball and plunger that’s attached to the bottom of the feed pipe. This allows the sow to eat when she wants, rather than you giving it all in one. She simply noses the ball and that lifts up to allow feed to drop. It will also be easy to see any sow that’s not eating.

Two items of interest on the QE stand were a new feeder to follow on from the now well-established Transition Feeder and is called the Sprintomat and can take pigs from weaning to 35kg. A sensor a bit like a beeper on a car monitors the feed in the trough  allowing feed to drop as and when required, so no stale food is left in the bottom.

Another eye catcher under their well established rise and fall farrowing crate was a plastic tray that catches all dung and urine, which disappears down a hole into a pipe which takes it away. No smell, no flies, no disease.

Now that shovels and barrows are old hat, the Kanga range of small loaders look an ideal tool for al those narrow passage and tight corners.

There was more, much more, but where do you stop?

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