Stranded lorries and shortages – an opportunity that could actually galvanise our industry

Dennis Bridgeford is based near Easter Ross in Scotland’s Highland Region and operates an indoor herd of 550 sows rearing lighter weight finishers of 75kg

A bit late, but I wish you all the very best for 2019. Regrettably, I think the pig industry is going to require all the good luck that is going! Depressed prices, trouble in the slaughter industry and, of course, expensive grain… sound familiar?

The turmoil caused by Brexit is certainly not helping consumer confidence with sluggish pig meat sales and, sadly, our political masters in Westminster are going about like the proverbial headless chickens!

Politicians on all sides of the house have not come out of the debacle with any credit, other than pandering to their own agenda.

But maybe we can benefit as an industry. The thought of UK-bound lorries stuck at the docks, not able to deliver product, has a great ring to it. I suspect most supermarkets are working on a delivery as required basis – it would not take long for gaps to appear on the shelves that normally are filled with Dutch, Danish and French pig products.

I find the thought of this situation most appealing! Hopefully, it’s not just wishful thinking – it would certainly help swing the SPP on an upward trajectory! Of course, the added benefit would be that the populous would be reminded that food just does not magically appear on the shelves.

Now that I have got that off my chest, I can move on to pigs.

Our ongoing fertility problem continues to ease. What caused it other than the really hot weather in July, I am not really sure. We did staff re-training, along with a heavy cull of sows that let us down – although I am always very unwilling to cull young sows. Sadly, this is probably governed by the almost insulting price of culls.

My neighbour who runs 4,500 ewes has been smiling of late, getting £150 for a cast ewe weighing 80kgs while we are struggling to get £80 for 275kg sow. I might be really showing my age here, but 40 years ago we were getting £200 for an old sow. Why the differential?

After a trial, we decided to revert back to the 900 boar (American- derived Pietrian) for few reasons. I really like the carcase of the 900 and numbers born appear to be higher, with greater vigour at birth – but the main reason is ease at weaning. We have found the Duroc grows very well but is more difficult to get up and eating when weaned. The progeny of the 900 are eating machines at this crucial time.

Back to Brexit… I write before there has been a conclusion. Let’s hope for a bit of unity – well that’s my official line, but deep down I am wishing that food delivery lorries are stranded with the resulting chaos and shortages! That would galvanise everyone’s thoughts.

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