Protect our native breeds to deliver on taste and litter size

During March, Melany and I went to Bangkok for the biannual VIV Asia show.
This event, like our own Pig & Poultry Fair, caters for pigs and poultry as well as aquatics and, this year, included a machinery show as well. The host venue had been greatly extended since the last show, but such was the demand for space that it was still full of stands representing companies from all over the world.

We enjoyed three busy days on the British stand, meeting potential customers from all over Asia looking to buy pedigree GGP stock for new and existing units. We also attended a reception at the British Embassy in Bangkok where we had a chance to meet members of a Chinese delegation, as well as representatives of local Thai companies.

Since we returned, home life has been very busy. Planning permission has been submitted for a new slatted farrowing house with freedom farrowing crates and a new straw-based finishing building. The local parish council is very supportive of this project. Let’s hope South Cambridgeshire District Council is just as keen. We need these new buildings to allow herd expansion and further improve growth rates as well as replacing ageing accommodation, which is at the end of its useful life. It will also make life much easier for myself on a daily basis. The new shed mentioned in my last column is up. We now need to concrete the floors and install the sow feeders.

“If the British public wants great tasting pork, our native breeds can deliver this”

Also in my last column, I touched on the perilous state of some of our native breeds. Thanks to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) this has had a mention on prime time TV recently, as well as in this publication.

If the British public wants great tasting pork, our native breeds can deliver this, on top of which the two breeds that need the most help, the Large White and Landrace, will deliver litter sizes and good grades.

Last month, I was the pig judge for Bedfordshire Young Farmers stock judging competition as well as supplying the four cutter pigs to be judged. More than 50 young farmers from three age groups judged the pigs and gave their reasons for putting them in their particular order. I feel supporting young people in his way is vital if we want new people to come into this industry and keep it fresh and forward thinking.

I also think engaging with the public is important if we wish to counter some of the negative publicity we receive from all of the various pressure groups. For this reason, we will once again be throwing open our gates on June 11 for Open Farm Sunday.

Guy Kiddy is the chairman of the British Pig Association and has an all-pedigree herd, including the oldest Large White herd in England, at Solitaire Farm, in Bedfordshire

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