Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Pig producers who are giving ‘in-house’ training to staff on farm can become registered trainers on the Pig Industry Professional Register (PIPR) – to ensure they get credit for all the training and development they do.
This is something many have not been aware of until now and it can also help producers provide a record of the training they do to comply with the recommendations of assurance schemes.
In-house training sessions could include training staff on the unit’s standard operating procedures (SOP) or using the BPEX Practical Pig App. All of these can be registered as training sessions so participants can earn PIPR points.
PIPR is the pig industry’s own continuous professional development (CPD) scheme, established to recognise professionalism and encourage lifelong learning to build on the existing skills in the pig industry. Members collect points through skills and knowledge acquisition both on-farm and through external training providers. So PIPR provides a record of achievement, independently accredited and recognised industry wide.
Pig producers can register as a trainer by completing the Trainers Register Application form on the PIPR website, by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Our year-long BPEX field trial on recording and making better sense of data will soon be complete and we will be discussing the results with other producers at local pig club meetings.
Danish pig consultant and ex production manager, Sanne Baden, of Pig Improvements Ltd, has been visiting six different pig units on a quarterly basis to help make sure pig performance data is entered into recording systems accurately and interpret the management reports to help figure out whether and where change is needed.
Pigs weaned per sow per year on producer Tim Blanchard's unit have increased from 24.7 to 27.9 due to a number of factors, including a 10% increase in conception rate, improved parity profile and a 2.2% reduction in pre-weaning mortality.
When data highlighted pre-weaning mortality as an area to improve, Tim’s farrowing house staff started recording some additional information on cause and age of piglet death. They found that many were happening in the first 24 hours and it was often because piglets were cold, therefore going under the sow and being laid on.
Tim now synchronizes farrowing and has employed an extra full-time person to help manage the extra attention needed by farrowing larger numbers born and has reduced the pre-weaning mortality down to 6%. From looking at ages of piglet death, Tim was able to identify what likely impact staff would have in the farrowing house.
Feel free to contact me or your regional knowledge transfer manager for help with data interpretation.
Monday, 3 February 2014
A ‘fresh pair of eyes’ is useful on any pig unit, whether they have a lot of challenges to address or performance is already quite good. BPEX’s on-farm reviews can provide producers with additional help and experience to improve performance or to tackle a particular issue. A short visit report is written afterwards for the producer and shared with the unit's vet.
When one East Anglian unit requested a farm review visit, I was able to discuss with him possible ways to reduce problems with ‘greasy pig’. I suggested applying dry disinfectant, in just one farrowing room on days 6, 8 and 10, to see if it helped. The BPEX health team is also providing some help and information on swabbing pig pens for bacteria and disinfection.
Something else I found interesting was that the unit is not using injectable iron, but an iron powder, which is offered to the piglets on days 3, 7, and 10 and, so far, no piglets are suffering with anaemia. We often pick up different ideas and practices like this when we go on farm and it all adds to the knowledge and experience that, as a knowledge transfer team, we can share with other producers.
Go to: www.bpex.org.uk/2ts/contact.aspx
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Feed savings have been calculated at about £15 per sow per year, with cost savings from increased sow productivity to be calculated next.
We set up the project to see if it would reduce competition between sows and feed them according to their body condition, as well as making more efficient use of feed and reducing vermin.
After some initial difficulty with unreliable wireless, the unit staff are now confident using the feeders and have a system for training both sows and gilts which takes about four days.
Go to www.bpex.org.uk/events/conferences/producer for more information in a presentation by production manager Malcolm Knowles.
The Innovation Fund grants mean pig producers can share the risk of investing in new or unproven technology or equipment, with BPEX offering up to 50% funding to producers to try out new and innovative ideas and share the pros and cons with fellow producers. Contact your regional knowledge transfer manager for more information.
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
BPEX is working with pig producers to help retain good staff; it has produced a Human Resources Toolkit to help unit managers provide staff with more support and a structure for their continuous development and training.
The toolkit contains an induction manual template to help integrate new starters into the business and a ‘skills matrix’ to help keep track of staff skills and identify where more training is needed.
There is also an annual appraisal form template which managers can use if they want to introduce an annual appraisal system. It provides managers and staff with a structure for their discussion, including how the employee feels the last 12 months have gone, their achievements, any issues that have arisen, objectives for the coming year and what additional help or training they may need. Managers can tailor all three documents to their specific units.
Managing staff development is a key part of unit management and motivates the whole team to make a positive impact on pig productivity. Producers need people who want to contribute to the business and stay in the industry for a long-term career.
The toolkit is a practical step in the pig industry’s new skills strategy, Recruit, Retain, Reward.
Friday, 20 December 2013
Some pertinent points for English pig producers were raised by pig journalist Jane Jordan in a recent issue of the Weekly Tribune e-newsletter, which I read with great interest.
Jane highlighted in her article that pre-weaning mortality rates are much higher than they could be on many pig units, having examined a set of pig herd performance data. “Good-sized litters and high numbers born alive were very evident, demonstrating that dam line prolificacy and fertility were on the whole exceptional. Where it seems to fall apart was post-farrowing, where potential appeared to be thrown away,” she wrote.
“In spite of producing in excess of 13 pigs born alive per litter, few of these herds were managing to rear nine pigs to weaning. One case in particular caught my eye with numbers born averaging 15 born alive per litter, yet this herd was weaning less than nine pigs per litter per sow on average.”
Jane also gave a view on what might be done to improve this: “Pig producers are being bombarded by advice, ideas and innovations on how to boost sow productivity – which is brilliant. However, as I listen and learn about what could be achieved, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that the tools capable of doing the job are already in place; it’s the human element involved in harnessing that potential that’s holding back progress. The pig business is a hi-tech meat production sector where technology is used on a daily basis. But is it being applied in the right way?
“As an industry we have many high-tech tools to help us do a very efficient job - both indoors and out. But I’m not sure the skills at the coalface are always in tune with the technology we are working with. Better recording and data analysis could provide a clearer picture and stockmen and managers must be encouraged to record data more accurately and use it effectively to pin-point areas for improvement. We must not just hang our hat on increasing sow prolificacy and numbers born in the vain hope it will raise overall productivity.”
These are important challenges that Jane has identified, which BPEX is addressing as part of the Breed+3 initiative to help pig businesses become more cost-efficient and wean more pigs per sow per year. Please get in touch with me or the knowledge transfer manager in your region if you’d like to discuss your breeding herd and data recording and analysis.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Our most recent BPEX producer tour to France illuminated how building investments can be both fit for purpose and cost-effective.
The three-day trip to Brittany, which we led jointly with BOCM PAULS, got producers thinking about making changes to ventilation systems, a possible move to a slatted system and improvements to weaner and grower accommodation. One of the highlights was a cost-effective concept building from a French manufacturer, which can be adapted as accommodation for farrowing, dry sows, weaners and more.
There’s nothing quite like seeing other pig units first hand and having the chance to question the producers and engineers involved, to work out whether a technology could be suitable, or adapted, to help improve pig production on an English unit.
Please get in touch with me if you'd like to know more about the trip or about ideas for future knowledge-gathering tours.