New technical hub to focus on efficiency at 2020 British Pig & Poultry Fair

Maximising efficiencies is key to pig producers’ profitability, and this year’s British Pig & Poultry Fair will help lead the way with its new Technical Hub, in partnership with AHDB

Building on the popularity of the main forum programme and based on visitor feedback, the new Technical Hub will feature expert speakers and provide visitors with actionable take-home advice.

With a focus on pig health, welfare and the environment the topics will include problem-solving technology, nutrition, performance measurement and inspirational farmer case studies.

Steve JaggerFair partner ABN is encouraging producers to optimise nutrition for efficiency and health, with ABN pig nutritionist Dr Steven Jagger (left).

“Providing the most cost-effective nutrient level at each growth stage of the pig improves the efficiency of feed use and reduces environmental emissions and the carbon footprint of the industry,” he said. “Nutrition can also be tailored to improve gut health, which in turn can increase a pig’s immune response and resistance to disease challenges.”

Producers will also hear how machine learning can be used to predict a pig’s future, in a session led by Christian Taylor from Newcastle University and Ben Williams at AHDB.

“Machine learning is the opportunity to use data in day-to-day farming to predict how livestock will perform,” said Mr Williams. “AHDB is working with a group of farmers to collect data from sire to slaughter to see if we can improve efficiency.”

Data is collected and fed into the machine learning programme to predict efficiencies, including how long a sow will survive in the herd – by taking data from her first litter – or predicting slaughter weight. “This level of information will then allow us to make management decisions about these animals and allow farmers to use resources more efficiently,” Mr Williams added. “Practically, this could mean feeding less to those predicted to over-perform.”

Performance data

Most producers know that collecting performance data can be extremely useful in driving efficiencies, but it can be overwhelming. Harbro’s new Index of Pig Performance (HIPP), which will feature at the Hub, can help to navigate the data maze.

Iain Lyle Harbro“This new index enables producers to assess unit performance, make sense of the data they collect and benchmark sites against each other to work out how to become more efficient,” said Iain Lyle (right), Harbro’s pig technical support manager.

HIPP allows producers to make small changes which will drive overall performance and profitability. “The sheer scale and throughput of some of the larger producers is so vast that having a central platform to analyse KPIs is essential,” he added.

Producers can use HIPP as a benchmarking tool to inform management decisions. Mr Lyle said: “The programme assigns an indexation figure relating to efficiency and the database can be interrogated or cross-referenced to ascertain the best performing combination of factors, such as genotype, health regime, site size and feed type.”

Farmers on the look-out for cutting-edge technology and automation will be fascinated by the insight from Daniel Holling, director of customer solutions at Big Dutchman. He will take visitors through the Xaletto system, which is designed for closed straw-bedded houses, and uses humidity extracted from the bedding to manage climate controls.

There will be plenty of other innovations to inspire at the Fair, and, of course, the central forum theatre will remain a key part of the programme, hosting the popular Pig Outlook at 11am.

“In 2018, 80% of Fair visitors planned to make changes to their business as a result of their visit,” said event organiser Alice Bell. “Producers looking for the latest ideas and solutions to meet the challenges and realise the opportunities ahead will be sure to find value in the new pig Technical Hub.”

About the Fair

  • The British Pig and Poultry Fair is the leading event for the UK pig, poultry and egg sectors
  • It will be held on May 12-13 at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
  • It is free to attend.
  • For registration and a full list of seminars and sessions visit www.pigandpoultry.org.uk 

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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.