So, there I was, thinking we had finally crossed a bridge – achieving a reasonable price for our pigs, grain easing in price even with a very weak pound, soya bought well, crops looking fantastic… then bang! Our main Scottish processor has a fire.
My stomach hit the floor when I got the phone call. “What the heck next?” I thought. That, of course, is the sanitised version.
I must say well done to all the marketing groups and hauliers, and to Tulip, for working their backsides off to keep pigs moving. They deserve great credit but as time goes on, you just know it will get more difficult.
Again, one of the advantages of having a Scottish Government is you get action quickly. The relaxation of rules on drivers’ hours certainly helped. You could see straight away the logistical difficulty of getting pigs from the north of Scotland down into the Midlands of England.
Sadly, the movement of pigs to Northern Ireland proved more problematic, even though the movement the other way doesn’t appear to be a problem.
The requirement to tag slaughter pigs appears well over the top – the vet, at loading, could seal the lorry. This, along with the paperwork, proved, to be diplomatic, difficult. Even with these problems, we have been grateful to get the surplus pigs moved. In autumn, the last thing we need are pigs hanging around.
Writing in early September, I have my fingers crossed that repairs to the plant will meet the October deadline, because going into the Christmas period hauling pigs south won’t help anyone.
This, of course, has seen the price drift downwards, which has not been helped by various breakdowns at other plants. Or is this a method to try and force the price down a bit quicker? How dare I suggest such a thing?!
On the home pig front, our run of breakdowns continued into harvest. Our wet feeding system got in on the act with pump problems. Wet feeding is a fantastic way to feed a lot of pigs, but when it breaks down, you definitely require a ‘Plan B’!
We have hopefully rectified the feed mixer problem we were experiencing by discontinuing liquid fish at the production end. Instead, we are adding it at the delivery point. We’ve reverted back to traditional fishmeal in the lactating diet, which has worked. On day four, when we give the piglets iron, you can see the change – we now have a ‘handful’ of pig.
This, along with the ‘upspecking’ of diets will get growth back to where it should be, aided by this year’s fantastic cereal crop.
The quality and quantity have been first class. We farm on a raised beach, but if you travel a few miles, we have some of the best farmland in Scotland here.
To a man, my neighbours have been admitting it’s some of the largest yields and highest bushel weights ever achieved. So let’s hope the maltsters don’t scoop it all up, of course. True to form their spec will alter as their barn fills – or is that the cynic in me again?