Occasionally I like to remind producers to examine their weaning performance in order to optimise subsequent growth rates. We have the plethora of effects that can impact on early growth rates – health being critical, but also genetics, stocking density, environment, hopper space, access to water plus many more. Nutrition remains critical, but all factors play a part and must be in the balance in order to achieve the best possible growth rates.
I have to admit here that, as a consultant to the pig industry, I’m disappointed with the demise of a valuable source of information. The UK’s Pig Veterinary Society continues to do sterling work in fighting on our behalf on various committees and societies to keep a pragmatic and unemotional viewpoint in the industry that could otherwise be easily railroaded by new initiatives and changes to standards.
It also publishes clinical findings, experience, case studies and research in The Pig Journal, which is an excellent source of technical data information. However, owing to numerous influences, the society cannot, for the time being, publish another edition. This has traditionally provided an unbiased and balanced update across a range of topics.
Reflecting back to the last edition (volume 69), we have excellent papers of the latest information on all areas pertinent to the performance of the weaned pig. It highlights the importance of embracing, in harmony, all the factors involved to achieve the best out of our pigs. Evaluating only one aspect of a production system is a very dangerous road to travel.
I come back to nutrition – the obvious culprit for underperforming pigs. Feed companies invest a great deal of time and money into research for the most appropriate combination of ingredients to provide the correct platform for pigs to flourish. However, even with the most scientifically researched feed, the benefit can easily be undone by something as simple as stocking density. This is where working as a team is essential to ensure that all aspects of the production system are working well. If something on your farm is not working as efficiently as it should, talk to someone about it.
Too often producers suffer in silence rather than ask for assistance or advice. It’s easier to either ignore it or change supplier. The line from Pink Floyd’s track Time on dark side of the moon sums up this philosophy brilliantly – “hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”
It is a real pity that The Pig Journal will be no more, as the combination of the latest information into different aspects of farming in one journal will be sorely missed.
But regardless of harmony and lyrics, in this competitive and tough pig industry it’s vital that if something isn’t right, ask for help!
> Born in Essex, schooled in Suffolk and a graduate of Reading University, Dr Phil Baynes has spent his career in pig welfare and nutrition. Now based in Cheshire, he runs Baynes Nutrition and is a consultant nutritionist to Provimi.