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Dutch Productivity ‘Target for UK Pig Producers’

by 5m Editor
17 July 2009, at 9:01am

NETHERLANDS - Managing sows for high productivity — averaging 28 to 30 pigs/sow/year – was the focus of a visit to the Netherlands sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health for UK breeding farm managers.

Pfizer Animal Health
From left - Freddie French of Pfizer with Rattlerow Farms visitors to one of the Dutch units - Jonathan Self, Diana Townroe and Stuart Raven

The managers, from Rattlerow Farms nucleus and multiplication units across the Eastern Counties, saw a number of large Rattlerow Seghers customer farms in the Eindhoven area with up to 1800 sows as well as visiting the company AI station and a research farm at Sterksel.

"With our Dutch customers achieving 28 pigs weaned per sow per year, we wanted our managers to understand the technical reasons for this level of performance," commented Robert Lawson, joint managing director of Rattlerow Farms. "We are also well advanced with our own hyper prolific program in our UK nucleus herds and our staff now need to know how to manage these high numbers and the associated problems with this level of production."

"Management plays an important role, too," he says. "Some units are using, for instance, a cooling system with cold water beneath the slats to keep the sows cool during warm weather and so encourage feed intake. A high specification ration also helps keep lactating sows in good condition and creep feed is given early to get the piglets used to solid food."

Freddie French, key account manager of Pfizer, said that a few years ago Dutch producers had been dreaming of achieving 30 pigs/sow/year and now it is becoming a reality by using hyper prolific females crossed to Piétrain type sires. "By using improved breeding stock and precise management techniques, this isn’t an unrealistic target for the UK industry."