May 2014: See you at the Pig Fair

It doesn’t seem like two years since the last Pig & Poultry Fair. Having said that, it doesn’t seem that long since I was invited to Shell’s headquarters in London to hear about the future of oil production – and that was 1970. Back then, we were told that there were sufficient oil reserves to produce oil for another 30 years.

How times have moved on. We are now given to understand that oil production will see this century out, but who knows what the situation will be in 2099. And what will eventually replace oil, which is something we all use every day in one form or another?

This is good news for pig farmers, who use plastic catheters for AI and plastic panelling in buildings. It makes you wonder what on earth we did before plastics. Plastic pen divisions are so much better than concrete blocks, and can you imagine anything so old fashioned as going back to serving sows naturally?

The future for power is quite worrying as costs steadily climb and we wonder how we’re going to cope. I have recently seen several LED installations that look like they’re one answer to minimising lighting costs, and I know there are many more systems being installed.

I have also seen heating installations using biomass boilers burning wood chip that qualify for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments. These systems circulate warm water and are contributing huge saving towards heating costs. I have a feeling these systems could take off in the pig industry as electricity costs continue to soar.

We haven’t heard much recently about blood plasma, the high-protein animal by-product used in piglet feed that usually results in higher initial feed intake for newly weaned pigs. The reason for these gains are said to be the initial taste preference baby pigs seem to have for blood and the digestive health benefits from the globulin protein faction in plasma.

Unfortunately, the benefits of this immunity can also come with risks of disease transmission, and recently blood plasma has been implicated with the transmission of PEDv.

Research work in America with hyper-egg antibodies has found that these are also a good source of immunoglobulin, and specifically for those protecting against E coli bacteria common in young pigs. Hyper-Egg K88 is the first and only egg antibody product in the world to be registered with a government regulatory agency guaranteeing a minimum level of antibody protection.

Because they come from eggs, there’s no fear of cross contamination or disease transmission to pigs, and trials have shown equal or better performance than with the plasma after four weeks in the nursery. Another benefit is that consumers eat eggs and should have little resistance to dried egg powder being used as a pig feed ingredient.

Do pop onto our stand at the Pig Fair to meet the new Pig World team, and it might also be worth having a word with the poultry sector, after all it’s a joint fair and they may, without knowing it, have something to help the pig industry.

> Yorkshire farmer Sam Walton is a former pig producer and the founding editor of Pig World

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