BPEX blog

Monday, 8 December 2014

Why stockmen should be there at farrowing

Being present to monitor farrowing is key to helping the newborn piglet get a good start and reducing piglet mortality rates. Newborn management is an important factor in achieving one extra pig weaned per sow per year, which is one of the key targets BPEX is helping producers with this year.

Newborn piglets are poorly equipped to keep warm immediately after birth as the energy reserves to produce body heat (glycogen stored in the liver) are limited. A combination of factors means that piglets often become chilled: their small size means they lose heat fast, a lack of brown fat means there’s no internal heat source, they have little surface fat and no hair (no insulation) and they’re born wet with birth fluids (further chilling). Piglets are also born with no immunity and can only get this from colostrum soon after birth.

Producers could consider altering routines or rotas to provide cover at farrowing time or discuss with their vet the practicalities of using products to promote farrowing during the daytime, when the stockman can be present.

Colostrum is the ‘first milk’ and an essential source of energy, nutrients and immunity for the piglet.
It is critical for development of the piglets’ own immune system and optimum lifetime performance. Producers should maximise colostrum intake in the first six hours after birth. Beyond 24 hours is too late as the piglets’ intestines can no longer absorb the large antibodies found in colostrum.

Split suckling, assisted suckling and hand feeding colostrum are all options to help ensure colostrum intake.

For more information: 

Watch the BPEX Regional Producer Events presentations on optimising weaned pig quality

View short video clips from the BPEX Practical Pig App 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Help keep disease out of the UK

Keeping African Swine Fever (ASF) out of Britain must be a top priority for the industry and government alike. One of the major risks is the accidental introduction by somebody returning from an Eastern European country where it is already confirmed. 

It only takes one person to bring back a pork product which they then take onto a unit for lunch and the potential for introducing ASF to the UK exists.

BPEX has produced posters in English, Polish and Lithuanian which are available as hard copy or can be downloaded from the BPEX website.

There is also a pictorial poster which aims to stop people bringing pork products in from countries where ASF has been confirmed.

ASF is slowly getting closer to us all the time and some people are saying it is when not if it arrives here. We have to be on the alert and prepared for the worst.

Posters are available to download here while hard copies are available from Cheryl.barker@bpex.ahdb.org.uk, telephone 02476 478893.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Practical pig husbandry qualification updated


We have revised and re-organised the pig industry Certificate of Competence in pig husbandry skills, with some changes to the assessment criteria and the learner manuals, which are now available. 

The Certificates of Competence are practical and relevant qualifications, covering stockmanship, welfare, pig husbandry skill and pig unit supervision. Candidates are assessed on farm and the assessment criteria are based on the demonstration of knowledge and practical skills. Key revisions include:

• Mandatory units on pig stockmanship and welfare and the safe use of veterinary medicines have been included in the pig husbandry skills learning manual folder (they were in separate folders before)

• The online written test has been removed to ensure the assessment and qualifications are practical throughout.

There is more information at www.bpex.org.uk/2TS/Training/CertificatesOfCompetence.aspx or please get in touch

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Users rate BPEX Practical Pig App


The hundreds who have used the BPEX Practical Pig App so far have rated it 4.8 out of 5 and BPEX is encouraging even more people to download it to help build practical skills on pig units. 

The free app now features nearly 100 short video clips that demonstrate practical techniques, covering breeding and wean-to-finish systems, both indoor and outdoor. All videos can be viewed on the website too. So managers and staff can use the app in situ out on the unit, watching and discussing the video clips either on a smartphone or tablet computer, or on a PC in the office.

The clips explain not only how tasks are done but also why they are done in a certain way and what impact that can have on pig productivity. The app is ideal for supervisors to watch with their stockmen, either out on the unit or in the staffroom during tea break – so they can highlight key points and explain them in the context of their particular farm.

To view the videos on a PC or laptop, go to practicalpig.bpex.org.uk and to download the app for smartphone or tablet computer, go to play.google.com or www.apple.com and search for BPEX Practical Pig App. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Manage soil to boost benefits for both pig and arable farmers

We have added four new video clips on soil management for outdoor pig units  to the BPEX Practical Pig App and website.
The short videos are presented by Tim Schofield, FWAG farm conservation adviser, along with Nigel Penlington of BPEX, and cover: soil types, compaction, risk mapping and field gradients.

They summarise how and why soil must be carefully managed, to help maximise the benefits for both pig and arable farmers and minimise any environmental impact. Reducing the risk of surface water run-off should be high on the priority list, as well as utilising the natural nutrients supplied by the pigs. 

The Practical Pig App now features nearly 100 short video clips that demonstrate management techniques on farm, covering breeding and wean-to-finish systems, both indoor and outdoor.

Managers and staff can use the app in situ out on the unit, watching and discussing the video clips either on a smartphone or tablet computer, or on a PC in the office.

The BPEX Good Soil Management Practice guide accompanies the videos and can be found at: www.bpex.org.uk/environment-hub/soil-water/default.aspx

To view the videos on a PC or laptop, producers should visit practicalpig.bpex.org.uk and to download the app, free, for smartphone or tablet computer, go to play.google.com or www.apple.com and search for BPEX Practical Pig App.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Keep the momentum with feed conversion and growth

Feeding herd growth and feed conversion continued to get better in the year to June 2014, according to the latest Agrosoft data. The feed conversion ratio in the rearing stage improved marginally at 1.73 and there was a faster improvement in the finishing herd, where the FCR was 2.66, down from 2.81 in the previous year.

Daily weight gain was higher than a year earlier in the rearing herd, up from 488g to 511g/day while, in the finishing herd, it was just under 800g/day. 

Improved feed, timing on ration changes, water availability, water quality and investments in better building ventilation will all have contributed to these gains and English finisher producers need to keep focused on these to continue improving.

Strong weaning weights, stocking rates, weighing and recording are also important factors. BPEX calculates that an improvement of just 0.1 in FCR on a 300 sow unit could generate £14,000 savings per year in the feed bill. 

The wean-to-finish section on the BPEX Practical Pig App has short on-farm video clips to help demonstrate important tasks to staff, from preparing weaner accommodation to managing feed, checking water flow rates and weighing pigs.

Feed conversion ratio and daily liveweight gain are the key performance targets for the finishing herd BPEX is focused on helping the industry achieve this year, alongside numbers of pigs weaned per sow for the breeding herd. This is to help close the gap in its competitiveness with other countries

Key performance targets BPEX is focused on helping the industry achieve this year:
+1 pig weaned per sow per year
+50g daily liveweight gain, 7kg to slaughter
-0.1 feed conversion ratio, 7kg to slaughter


Monday, 22 September 2014

Video: manures and slurries are valuable assets

Manures and slurries are no longer a waste product for disposal, they are a valuable asset to be utilised.
BPEX has produced a short video which demonstrates on-farm testing of pig slurry to determine its fertiliser value and how this can be calculated to include within a fertiliser plan.
It's presented by BPEX environment programme manager Nigel Penlington and Suffolk FWAG farm conservation adviser Tim Schofield.