Focus farm progress is worth 586 pigs a year

AHDB’s pork focus farm has achieved a 61% reduction in pre-weaning mortality in its first six months of being part of the open-to-all programme.

“This incredible result is being attributed to improvements in farrowing house management, staff training and the use of ultra-high frequency ear tags to record causes of death,” said AHDB, referring to achievements recorded at the Preston-based 250-sow unit, run by David Goodier (pictured above).

By cutting the unit’s pre-weaning mortality from 15% to 5.8%, the farm is now set up to produce an extra 586 pigs a year, a gain which will be open for discussion during the next focus farm meeting, scheduled for Monday, February 27, at the Bridge Hotel, Wetherby.

AHDB reported that Mr Goodier’s vet, Tom Iveson, carried out a two-day staff training course on the farm to help reduce pre-weaning mortality, working with the team to help refine the unit’s split-suckling management strategy and farrowing house routine.

As a result, ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags were introduced to collect and monitor individual pig data, including reasons for, and causes of, death.

“We’ve tagged and weighed four batches of piglets since August, and last week we saw the first 40 pigs go through the abattoir,” said AHDB Pork’s technical manager, Dominic Charman.

“We’ve been recording the cause of death for all piglets and I believe this has been key to understanding the issues and has helped with targeted treatment. What’s more, handling and monitoring the pigs more closely has meant that any problems have been ‘nipped in the bud’.

“We’re going to implement further training which will hopefully help reduce the pre-weaning mortality rate further, especially given the likely increase in litter size following other breeding herd changes, and we’ll work to review the unit’s pig flow.”

The February 27 meeting will run from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. To reserve a place, email Rachel Adamson on Rachel.Adamson(at)


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