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Compare performance figures online - 2nd September 2010
Thursday, 2 September 2010
The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) section on the Market Intelligence area of the BPEX website has been completely revamped and updated. It enables producers to add their own performance figures to compare their units against the average.
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Farrowing checks made easy - 27th August 2010
Friday, 27 August 2010
Monitoring sows’ progress at farrowing has just got easier with a simple, free tool. BPEX has designed the 2TS Farrowing Disc to put beside sow pens during farrowing.
There are three coloured circles on the disc, one to mark the time over the course of 12 hours, the second to record how many piglets were born alive at the time they were last checked and the third to mark how many piglets were born dead.
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Re-assess gilt management - 26th August 2010
Thursday, 26 August 2010
BPEX is asking producers to re-assess their gilt management practices.
It is useful to question or challenge how things are done and the new Two-Tonne Sow (2TS) Gilt Management Pack is full of practical management advice and examples.
Knowledge Transfer Manager Lis Ravn said: “The pack provides a single source of advice on all aspects of gilt management, particularly those which might not have been reviewed recently.
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Risk management for sows - 24th August 2010
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Staff learned how to recognise a ‘risk sow’ during sow care training at Humberside pig business T Field. In the dry sow yards, they discussed sow behaviour, environment and availability of feed and water, looking for ways to reduce the risk of lameness or illness that can negatively affect productivity.

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New Soil Protection Review - 16th August 2010
Monday, 16 August 2010
The RPA has published its latest Cross Compliance Newsletter, including items on the Soil Protection Review.
The Soil Protection Review has been updated this year and must be completed by 31 December 2010, so it is advisable to make a start now, especially if producers are moving outdoor pigs. The old Soil Protection Review is still needed up to 31 December.
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The Pig'Nic Society is on Facebook - 16th August 2010
Monday, 16 August 2010
Join the PIGnic Society page for more information, as well as regular updates, tasty recipes for inspiration, and seeing what other PIGnic’ers are up to.
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Increase in straw price - 9th August 2010
Monday, 9 August 2010
The current headline story is the sudden increase in wheat and barley prices (Fig 1), due to both national and international events that have affected harvest predictions. What is not catching the headlines is the background rise in wheat and barley straw used for bedding. Figures from the British Hay and Straw Merchants Association show that, to date, the price per tonne compared with this time last year is approximately 30 to 40% higher, depending on crop.
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New website section coming soon - 9th August 2010
Monday, 9 August 2010
A new section of the BPEX website will be launched soon, covering the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the industry.
It will be updated every quarter and will provide average, top third and top 10% KPIs for indoor and outdoor breeding systems, rearing and finishing.
The launch is scheduled for September 1.

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Scottish staff exchange - 6th August 2010
Friday, 6 August 2010
As part of the Fawley Farms Mangers of Excellence Scheme, Justin Willoughby and Richard Howes went on an exchange visit to Mr Forbes' unit at Slainspark, Aberdeen. The managers spent two days working along side John, the unit manager, on this 1600-sow unit.
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New crop barley and barley straw - 3rd August 2010
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Generally we are using high inclusion rates of barley this year. New crop barley contains viscous B-glucans which can increase the incidence of scour in pigs.
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Stockmen visit feed mill - 30 July 2010
Friday, 30 July 2010
The Stockman Development East group had a very successful workshop at Crown Milling this week. They saw how a feed order was processed and found out more about purchasing of raw materials, risk management, auditing and assurance, mill processing and delivery of feed.
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Lighting in the farrowing house - 14th July 2010
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
We know that the temperature requirements of piglets and sows in the farrowing house are quite different but what about the different light requirements of sows and those who work with them? Defra states that pigs in buildings with no natural light should have at least 40 lux of supplementary light for a minimum of eight hours per day.
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Worms affect enzootic pneumonia vaccines - 13th July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Worm infections can compromise Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae vaccine efficacy in pigs. UK pig producers, already losing up to £6 a pig on worm-infested units, could be blasting a hole knocking millions of pounds off industry profits this year if they fail to reduce worm burdens.
The findings are from a research study by a team of Danish and US pig scientists.
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Nuffield Scholarship News - 9th July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
BPEX Knowledge Transfer Manager and Nuffield Scholar Helen Thoday writes: I attended my first Nuffield pig group event and it was an excellent introduction to the ongoing network of pig scholars that I have become part of.
The group, which was chaired by Chris Fogden and organised by Wendy Houston, attended an excellent day of visits followed by a session of presentations from current Nuffield Scholars Richard Hooper and Andrew Freemantle. Plenty of discussion followed, with Richard Longthorpe and Mike Varley there to add their overviews of the industry.

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Taking your time? - 9th July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
The Work-Metrics programme from Delta-Innovation is used to provide a detailed analysis of labour use and efficiency on farm - with fascinating results. Farmers Weekly spoke to Lincolnshire pig producer Meryl Ward to find out more.
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A good week for training - 2nd July 2010
Thursday, 8 July 2010
The pig industry is showing its commitment to training and professionalism yet again. BPEX Skills Development Manager Tess Howe reports on a busy and successful week for pig industry people.
Here are some of the achievements.
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Units achieving 2TS target - 24th June 2010
Thursday, 24 June 2010
The Knowledge Transfer (KT) team would like to hear from units already achieving two tonnes of pig meat per sow per year, or those who have taken great leaps to get there quite recently.
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Don't let the warm weather catch you out! - 22nd June 2010
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Careful storage and handling of semen is more important than ever in this warm weather to maintain semen quality and viability which can be damaged by temperature fluctuations. Heat stress in pigs must also be considered and appropriate measures put in place to prevent unnecessary suffering and reduced productivity.
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Do you have a success story? - 17th June 2010
Thursday, 17 June 2010
The Knowledge Transfer (KT) team is looking for producers to step up and feature in case studies – to show how they achieve success in some of the most important areas of gilt production. Seeing what other units do is always interesting and the art of gilt management varies between most units. We are very interested in talking to anyone:
• with units that use boars for first service followed by AI, achieving good numbers born
• with units where they feel they have a successful system buying in gilts and successful system breeding their own gilts
• who does not get a second litter drop.
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Sow Health Management - 14th June 2010
Monday, 14 June 2010
One of the topics discussed at the recent European Symposium on Porcine Health Management in Hannover was managing hyperprolific sows. Feeding is considered as the major factor in the reproductive management of the hyperprolific sow and new insights such as adding more fibre to sow diets during pregnancy and especially in the period prior to farrowing, have been shown to prevent constipation, increase water intake of the sow around parturition and increase milk intake and performance of piglets.

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Grand Designs for outdoor pigs - 9th June 2010
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
The BPEX Grand Designs workshops gave outdoor producers plenty of advice and new ideas on field design and soil management. Farmers Weekly went along too and wrote this report which can be read in full.
FWi: Improving conditions for pigs
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Save energy, save money - 19th May 2010
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Energy efficiency was the topic of the day at Garth North Pig Club last night. Nigel Penlington gave advice on some of the ‘easy wins’ for improving energy efficiency on farm. Energy savings and optimising your pigs’ environment go hand in hand with saving money and improving pig productivity.
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Team work and spaghetti towers - 18th May 2010
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Teacher and theatre director Rachel Vowles ran an excellent session with Devon and Cornwall training groups. Rachel does lots of work in the South West including sessions run by Duchy College and this particular afternoon covered exercises on working together, listening, learning and dealing with confrontation.
So how do you react when given the task of building a tall spaghetti tower or the simple task, or so it seemed, of lowering a stick balanced on everyone’s fingers? Why do some people pull back in a group and why do some delve straight in? The group discussed these questions and related them back to the way their teams work on farm.
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Feeding lactating sows – 6th May 2010
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Producer Neil Newlove demonstrated his system for feeding lactating sows during a virtual tour at the Easey Breeder Pig Club meeting in Yorkshire.
He laminates sow information cards and posts them up between the paddocks (one sheet for two paddocks).
The cards show how many kgs of feed the sow requires daily and staff cross off each day on the feeding table as they go along so everyone knows what is happening. The sows’ farrowing date and numbers born and fostered are also recorded on the cards.
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Look very closely at ventilation – 5th May 2010
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
The Midlands Producer Group wound up its spring workshop season with a thorough examination of pig unit ventilation – which you must get right to ensure the optimum environment for pigs. More than 20 producers met at Weedon for a meal before the trouble-shooting session led by John Chambers from J C Consulting. He offered producers specific advice on air flow and ventilation in their most problematic buildings and there was a good discussion about one unit where the producer had brought along photos of the buildings in question.
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Successful finishing - 27th April 2010
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Producers compared notes with other units at the Somerset Pig Club when they discussed wean to finish options with Fran Baird.
They focused on the different systems available in the UK including options producers had created themselves – either designed from scratch or from existing buildings, sometimes originally designed for other species.
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How Sussex coped with snow - 22nd April 2010
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Sussex Pig Club's third event on Tuesday saw producers comparing notes on how they coped with the winter's freezing weather. Temperatures went down to -7 and -12 in the area. Piglet mortality varied across the farms from an extra 0.4 pigs per litter to an extra 2 pigs per litter.
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Snippets from the South - 20th April 2010
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Successful ‘wean to finish’, tips from Thailand on looking after sows in summer and euthanasia are just a few of the topics featured at Pig Clubs and workshops in the South this month…

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Ear biting - 16th April 2010
Friday, 16 April 2010
Pigs will bite and suck at ears as a vice usually before tail or flank biting. The biting and sucking leads to necrosis which is then nibbled off.

What is associated with ear necrosis?

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Targeting 'the two tonne sow' - 13th April 2010
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
The Cornish Discussion Group discussed the pig industry’s forthcoming major project – achieving ‘the two tonne sow’ (to be launched 11-12 May at the British Pig and Poultry Fair). Although none of the producers present is achieving the BPEX target of two tonnes of meat sold per sow per year, they believe it is achievable. Interesting points were raised…
This specific, measurable target would only be met by raising the slaughter weight of all pigs sold and increasing the numbers sold. Both would require attention to detail! Having all invested in their units over the last few years the mood was buoyant but questions were raised over how quickly this target could be met and if it would make them any more profitable. Nevertheless, it is important that we get our physical performance up to EU standards to put us in a stronger, more sustainable position if the exchange rate slipped.
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Manipulable materials: new assurance scheme rules - 12th April 2010
Monday, 12 April 2010
TB in pigs, manipulable materials and a virtual walk around local pig units all featured at the third annual dinner for Young NPA members at Jury’s Inn, Exeter.

Zoe Davies gave an update on TB in pigs because of the locality and the need for all units to keep informed.

Next up was a discussion of changes in the Red Tractor assurance scheme requirements for manipulable materials and environmental enrichment, which not everyone was aware of. Click here for advice from BPEX on this.

Then two of the unit managers presented videos of their sites and the group ‘walked the production chain’.
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New Red Tractor farm gate signs - 7th April 2010
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Is your pig farm audited under the Assured British Pigs (ABP) or Genesis Quality Assurance?

New Red Tractor Pigs Farm Assurance signs are now available to display on your farm premises.

The signs are made from durable weatherproof plastic and cost just £10.00. Cheques should be made payable to BPEX.

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Pig businesses get back to the future - 22nd March 2010
Monday, 22 March 2010
The ‘Back to the Future’ Knowledge Transfer conference was a full house and great success, attended by more than 130 producers, allied industry members and journalists. The mood was positive and practical with a speaker line-up that producers found relevant to their business. Australian researcher Paul Hughes’ views and experience on gilt management strategies made a particular impact, with 81% of producers intending to go home and consider that area of their system...
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Weaning to service period outdoors - 12th March 2010
Friday, 12 March 2010
All the critical factors for success from weaning to service were discussed at an Oxford Training club meeting on AI for outdoor producers. These units all shared similar systems in the same region with the same genetics.

But there seemed to be a lot of differences between units when it comes to the post weaning period.
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Contact your BPEX KT team - 22nd February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
This week three new pig producers have made contact with the BPEX Knowledge Transfer team, but why has it taken them so long? We want to hear from more producers – from any type or size of unit with any problem they need help solving. The key driver for the KT team is to improve production on farm.

One producer got in contact with BPEX for the first time through their consultancy firm, Lawrence Gould. After a visit from the regional KT Manager there is now a clear plan for improving recording, refurbishing farrowing crates and slurry store information. We were also able to put them in touch with the local Regional Development Agency for some health plan funding.
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Know your Limits! - 27th January 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
The recent cold weather has certainly proved challenging and not necessarily just for you and your livestock. Have you been rigorously checking the temperature of your semen storage box or cabinet? Do you know the ambient temperature limits in which your storage equipment can operate correctly?
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'Fast' pigs to keep lorries cleaner - 12th January 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
A BPEX lorry washing meeting, at Meadow Quality Livestock HQ in Warwickshire, helped to build a much clearer understanding of requirements throughout the supply chain - to reduce the risk of disease transmission in the pig industry.

One issue discussed was the need for pig producers to ‘fast’ their pigs before leaving farms. Benefits of withdrawing access to food prior to dispatch are:
• Reduced levels of muck on lorries – all hauliers at the meeting said correct fasting has a considerable effect and reduces washing out times by around 50%
• Less dirty water produced at the abattoir
• Producers avoid the cost of wasted food and reduced killing out percentage and they also suffer less travel sickness
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Lactational oestrus - 8th January 2010
Friday, 8 January 2010
Many farms see lactational oestrus from December to April. There is no evidence to state why this should be, but anecdotally units see this issue over winter rather than summer. It may be that the sows are on a high level of nutrition and light levels are improving. There are no practical solutions to this problem but managing the piglets is key to not letting this problem affect your productivity and keeping sows satisfied with correct feeding.
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Plans for performance - 4th January 2010
Monday, 4 January 2010
The Cornish Pig Club met to review all physical performance figures, discuss the benefits of the new buildings erected and compare against our European counterparts.
Nick Dymond shared his visit report of a tour to Holland he was fortunate to attend with Helen Thoday.
It was felt that, although the Dutch wean over 30p/s/yr and wean at 21 days, the down side is that the pigs are smaller and weaker so post-weaning mortality is greater.
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Sugar beet and soya hulls - 15th December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
The Wednesday Group met in Norfolk to discuss ad lib feeding, with Philip Van den Brink, Tim Rymer and Len Phoenix of JSR.

Using sugar beet and soya hulls in rations can bring particular benefits. Sugar beet aids slower digestion in the colon and reduction of straw intake can help with mycotoxin concerns. Soya hulls are good when fed to finishers for the control of prolapsed pigs.

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Vet & Med with model Claudia - 26th November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Over two sessions, 37 pig producers received full vet and med training. Led by Jennie Batt and her colleague, the group divided up and took part in four sessions - featuring Claudia the model pig and using oranges to practice injections! The training followed the NPTC Stage 2 guidelines and gave both practical and theory sessions.
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Nutritional Terms: Energy - 23rd November 2009
Monday, 23 November 2009
The standard UK measure for the declaration of energy in pig feeds is digestible energy (DE).
Other energy expressions are sometimes used such as gross (GE) and net (NE). Surprisingly it is not a legal requirement to list the energy level of pig feed on the label but it should be easy to get hold of from your feed supplier.

This factsheet explains what the different terms relating to energy mean and provides target dietary energy levels for each category of pig.
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Free slurry and soil sampling - 22nd November 2009
Sunday, 22 November 2009
As part of the England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI) livestock farmers within the Lincolnshire Coast Rivers Catchment Sensitive Farming Area (east of Louth from North Somercotes to Boston) are being offered free, confidential soil and slurry/manure sampling visits which will take place at their convenience.
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Christmas market - 20th November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Despite Christmas being an annual occurrence, pig producers fail to engage with their marketing groups about managing the market around this period every year. This year two Fridays are affected and there will be a longer break than usual at the abattoirs – by Monday 4th January there could be a lot of overweight pigs around. Now is the time to start formulating a strategy for coping with Christmas.
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Pig health and training in South Yorkshire - 13th November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
The South Yorkshire Pig Club focused on the Yorkshire and Humberside Health initiative at its latest meeting. Producers heard the latest news first hand and discussed it with the project's Dr Sam Hoste.
Plus, on a different topic, the range of new training opportunities in the East Midland Training Hub were highlighted, to be held at Uncle Henry’s in Lincolnshire.
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Introduction to the Industry - 10th November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
The 4th Introduction to the industry day was held on the 4th November at the Old Mill, Langtoft. Thirteen people attended the course to find out more about pig production in the UK. Talks were presented on the practical and financial implications of pig production and an overview was given of all the legislation producers have to comply with. For many, the most interesting part of the day was the visit to a nearby breeding unit run by the Morgan Family. Feedback from the course delegates shows that they found the day very informative and enjoyable and many commented on how much they had learnt.
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Professional Manager Development Scheme (PMDS) - 9th November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
The final part of the selection process for the 2010 Professional Managers Development Scheme was completed last week (30th October). We had a strong group of applicants with varying levels of experience. What shone through from those we selected was their desire to develop in their role and to progress further in the future with their career within their business. “The PMDS programme is clearly seen as a vehicle to help them achieve this and address the challenges they currently face in their respective businesses” said Alistair Gibb, Course Leader. The 18 month course will start in January 2010.
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No More Porkies - 8th November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Sign up and show your support for clearer labelling.

The clearer labelling video produced for consumers to understand about how to read an on-pack label is now live on the LovePork website. Labels can be misleading and the video gives simple and clear advice on what the different elements mean.

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Speed up the Environmental Permitting process - 6th November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
Applications take time to process, but if you want to make sure yours goes through as quickly as possible, don’t tick the confidentiality box! If you tick this box your application will have to go through an alternative route and take much longer to process, meaning you will have to wait far longer to receive your permit.

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Eastern Health Project Under Way - 5th November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Eastern Health, the East of England health improvement project, is set to get underway having been given the go-ahead by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and BPEX. Never wanting to let the grass grow under their feet, producers in East Anglia have already set up a steering group and held a first meeting to discuss strategy, so the initiative can get off to a flying start. The steering group is chaired by Philip Richardson.

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