There was a large turnout of pig farmers for the recent ‘mini conference’ hosted by Fane Valley Feeds in Clogher, Co Tyrone.

Devenish Nutrition consultant Wallace Henry set the scene for the event when he told those in attendance  that managing sows to rear 30 piglets per year – through to weaning and beyond – must be the target for every Irish producer.

“This level of performance is already being achieved in countries such as Denmark,” he added.

“Profitability within the pig sector is all about improving performance. And, in this context, local pig farmers must set out to match and, if at all possible, better the efficiency levels currently being achieved in Denmark.”

Wallace then went on to point out that four key criteria came into play when determining. These are: the number of piglets born per litter; the number of piglets born alive per litter; the number weaned per litter and the number of litters achieved per sow per year.

He added: “We know the performance targets that must be reached in order to make 30 pigs per sow per year attainable. These can be summarised as follows: a farrowing rate of 88; an average of 14 .5 piglets born per litter; a pre-weaning mortality rate of 8.0% and an average weaning age of 27 days. Sows must also achieve an average of 2.35 litters per year.”

Wallace then discussed the key management criteria that will allow pig producers meet the aforementioned targets. In this context, he specifically highlighted aspects of gilt management, the use of flushing as a means of improving fertility rates and the effect of pregnancy feeding pattern on subsequent litter size.