The final meeting of the North-East Pig Monitor Farm Project, took place this week at Lochter Activity Centre and provided a valuable opportunity for local pig producers to hear about the impact of changes implemented over the four-year programme.

The project is funded 50:50 by Opportunity North East (ONE) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), with the aim of improving the profitability, productivity and sustainability of pig producers through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues.

Over the last four years, the host farm had made significant changes in key areas that have impacted on business profitability and sustainability by trialling new practices and technology. Changes included the building of a new finishing shed, that has seen faster growth rates and increased finishing weights contributing to a 20% increase in productivity.

Improvements have also been made to pig health, with new bespoke vaccines being developed that reduced antibiotic use significantly.

Owned by Patrick Stephen, the farm employs four members of staff, including farm manager, Wayne Ducker. The farm, which has been run as a pig unit since 1960s, has a commercial herd of 530 sows housed on straw and runs JSR females with a Danbred terminal sire.

At the final meeting Patrick Stephen and farm manager, Wayne Ducker reviewed the latest figures and look to the future and the next steps for the unit. Mr Stephen commented: “The expertise we have been able to tap into has given us the confidence to go ahead and try new things.”

Allan Ward, the pig specialist with QMS, said: “The host farm is a great example of a pig business that has made small changes that has delivered significant gains. The final meeting gave us an excellent opportunity for attendees to hear about the results of on-farm trials and carbon audit review.”

Grace Webster, the North-east pig monitor farm project facilitator, said: “This farm has delivered best practice lessons across the entire region. I would encourage all with an interest in improving their farm business to take from it what has been learned and to look forward to where the business wants to go in the future."