We all have a moral responsibility to reduce our antibiotic use

Today it has finally rained. In our little corner of the country it has been the driest harvest for a decade and it has made the whole job so much easier.
We have only had to fire up the grain drier for a small amount of wet spring wheat which is always a great relief. Poor specific weights have meant that yields are considerably lower than I would like but that will probably mean some cheaper feed wheat and barley for the pigs.
After the poor start to the year in terms of pig price I was expecting it to be a good year for the arable department but we have seen a major swing back towards profitability in the pig sector.
When we refurbished some of our pig accommodation, we realised the benefits that can come from new technology and, as a result, we are much quicker to try new ideas.
We have recently installed an acid system in the drinking water lines of our grower buildings both to try and improve health and to try and reduce the amount of antibiotics we use.
We are also going to try putting them into our farrowing houses to see if we can eradicate the scour problem that has been grumbling on in one particular building.
Whether or not antibiotic usage in livestock contributes to resistance in humans, I still think we all have a moral responsibility to do our level best to reduce our reliance on antibiotics.
We have also been testing the Unifeeder, which is an automatic creep feeder. We installed it in two of our ten-place farrowing houses. I think everyone was probably humouring me to start with, but it does actually do what it claims to do.
We weaned a room with and a room without the Unifeeders and initial results showed a 700g per pig increase at weaning. Any device that can improve creep feeding frequency and contribute to a bigger pig at weaning has to be a good thing.
This harvest is the first time that we have not had a baler. We don’t use anything like the amount of straw we used to and our baler was getting to the end of its life so we decided to contract out both the baling and the carting and stacking to a local contractor. It has made the whole process so much easier and faster.
Normally we have to have two extra tractors for the job plus at least two people. The contractors have baled the straw and cleared the field faster than we ever could and this has meant we were able to get in right behind them with a cultivator.
We even managed to get our oilseed rape in on August 10… but it hadn’t rained properly until today so it still isn’t up which is frustrating.
All in all, I feel we have had a jolly successful summer. Let’s just hope it continues!

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.