Pig Producers Secure the Future
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 14:18

Pig producers packed a ‘Securing the Future’ seminar in Cookstown to discuss how best they to take those opportunities 2012 and the years beyond will offer UK farmers reports Rodney Magowan.


FEED prices may well drift back this spring at a time when pig prices are likely to firm producers at the ‘Securing the Future’ seminar were told by Aidan O’Toole of Devenish Nutrition.

 “Typically farmers were paying 70p a kilo for pig feed in June 2010 and now, 18 months later, the cost is around £1 per kg. A feed price volatility that has huge implications for pig profit levels.  

Jim Power, left, an economist who spoke out strongly against the UK and Irish Republic joining the euro, was keynote speaker at 'Securing The future' pig industry seminars hosted by Devenish Nutrition, the agri-technology company. Others debating the way forward for producers were Devenish Nutrition specialists, from left, Michael Maguire, pig director, Dr Marian Scott, research nutritionist, Ronan Casserly, pig nutritionist and Aidan O'Toole, senior pig nutritionist.  The general consensus was that prospects for the pig industry in 2012 are better than for the general economy across the EU.

“Making predications on the feed price front is always a risky business and even more amidst the worrying global economic turmoil. However, current trends would suggest a feed price down at 90p per kg a few months from now. “All being well pigs in 2012 should average £135 to £140 a kilo if not more, which means margins will remain tight, but the efficient producer could see, at last, a much needed period of real profitability,” the senior pig nutritionist at Devenish added.

 “The combination of a marginal pig price strengthening, weakening feed costs and increased animal performance on truly efficient farms will surely give these well run businesses the chance to take profits, reduce borrowing and even upgrade housing.”  

Aidan based this upbeat view on figures from the USA showing sow numbers at almost 10% below 2007 levels and signs that EU stock levels  are falling back due to a period of unsustainable losses plus the impact of the stall and tether ban.

Export demand globally is strong at a time when EU consumers also see pigmeat as good value compared to other meats. Indeed supplies of competitive meats are falling and hence the rise in wholesale quotes for pigmeat.

 “Despite 40% of US corn going for ethanol production there are encouraging signs that the cereals and soya harvest in 2012 will be good and prices more reasonable.

 “As ever, the chances of these upbeat predictions coming true depend on the weather and world events, not least what happens on the euro front amidst concerns about a global recession or even 1930s style depression.”


FEEDING a ‘cheap’ creep ration is an excellent farming example of folk being penny wise and pound foolish.

 A better quality creep feed can cost an extra £1.49 per pig, but produces a pig weighing an extra 2kg at stage one that goes on to finish faster at less overall cost.

 The key conclusion draw by research nutritionist Dr Marian Scott of Devenish Nutrition from on farm trials conducted by the Belfast based agri-technology company.


Michael Maguire, Devenish pig director, takes a very positive view of the year ahead as plant prices seem set to improve and cereals costs ease. Even though some other input costs will continue to rise there is an opportunity for producers to improve profits by enhancing pig performance.

Addressing a ‘Securing the Future’ seminar for pig producers Dr Scott noted that trials at eight units had revealed considerable on farm variation in performance.  

“Ranking the pig performance achieved by these units at eight weeks old and again at 20 weeks of age produced the very clear conclusion that their relative ranking did not change.  “Farmers investing in more and better quality creep feed may have spent more initially, but their return was a saving on feed to slaughter of over £3 a head.  A pig lighter at the end of stage one simply cannot make up ground with those on a so called expensive creep feed. Typically they will need an extra 18 days, two and a half weeks, of feeding to slaughter.

 “The impact of having faster finishing batches that allow you to put more pigs through your unit each year must be strongly emphasised. For example, comparing two farms, each with 1100 pig places, but ranked at the top and bottom of the pig performance league table another 1,210 pigs were sold by the producer achieving a daily liveweight gain of 675g. He had 3.5 cycles per annum through the unit, but the bottom ranked farm with only a 520g DLWG figure achieved just 2.4 cycles in a 12 months.

“Boosting pig performance through to finishing by choosing a better creep feed in the critical four to eight week stage thus has implications for every aspect of your business. All sorts of options are opened up as regards how your existing investment in housing is used, for example to expand sow numbers or take pigs to a heavier weight.”

 Dr Scott adding that using results from R & D conducted by Devenish Nutrition will help pig producers secure their future in a time of wider economic uncertainty.  

“As a business based on innovation and serving the always innovative agricultural industry Devenish Nutrition works closely with research scientists at AFBI and Queens University in NI as well as with teams at Harper Adams University College, Newcastle and Dublin universities.

 “The outcome of this ‘Creep Feeding and Lifetime Performance’ trial is just one example of how practical research initiated by Devenish Nutrition helps put  profit on the bottom line for pig producers.”  For further details of R & D that can benefit your business please contact Devenish Nutrition Ltd, tel; (028) 9075 5566 or visit website www.devenishnutrition.com


“THE euro has only a 50/50 chance of survival with its demise likely to launch the global economy into an era of economic and political uncertainty on a scale not suffered since the hungry thirties.”

   A view made all the more stark when it comes from Jim Power, one of the few economists in the Irish Republic, who stood out from the common consensus and urged the Dublin government of the day not to join the euro zone!

 As guest speaker at the ‘Securing the Future’ seminar  for Ulster pig producers Jim Power warned that the euro crisis and global recession will impact on UK agriculture even though this is one of the few industries still growing across the British Isles.

 A farmer’s son and former chief economist at the Bank of Ireland Jim Power left his audience in no doubt that the world had lived beyond its means for over 20 years.  

The solution was painful, but necessary to avoid even worse economic and political turmoil. Public spending must be cut, taxes raised and the banking system reformed as citizens and states learn, like Mr Micawber, to live within their means.

 Yet saving the euro might prove impossible as this was a currency without a country as there is no United States of Europe.

 “Without the central banking control and central financial regulation seen in a nation state such as the USA, UK or Canada a currency logically cannot exist. Hence the drive by Germany and France to bring the euro nations much closer together with the central fiscal control and discipline required to save the currency.

 “Can they succeed, is it too late and will the PIIG nations, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece, default on massive government loans thus putting banks at risk of defaulting? Questions that will be answered within weeks or even days.  “However, amidst this crisis prospects for the pigmeat sector remain encouraging as demand continues to grow world wide, especially in the Far East, “Jim Power affirmed.

 “EU pork production is still in decline due to a dearth of credit and too many expensive regulations, but overdue cut backs in public spending at regional, national and EU level may see a more logical approach to how these regulations are viewed and enforced.

 “Meanwhile the drive towards greater on farm efficiency will continue and this, combined with tight margins in a volatile market will see the trend towards fewer, but larger units increase.  As ever, the best in the business will not only survive, but thrive by investing in research and adapting new technologies to meet ever changing market needs.”


PIG and pig feed price fluctuations are largely beyond the control of producers, who can however keep on improving livestock performance, not least at the weaner stage.

The key point made by nutritionist Ronan Casserly at the ‘Securing the Future’  seminar for Ulster producers hosted by Devenish Nutrition.


 Sam Rooney, left, from compounders John Thompson & Sons, at the'Securing the Future' pig event with Simon Caughey, Dr Violet Beattie and  Aidan O'Toole from Devenish Nutrition, the NI agri-technology company with an international reputation.

 “Six years ago the Devenish research team developed DeviGuard as a natural performance enhancer to replace antibiotic growth promoters.  An innovation boosting FCR by 7% and growth rate by 8% to add 5p a kilo to income. 

 “DeviGuard works in many ways to enhance porcine performance, for example, in improving the bacterial flora of the pig’s intestine and increasing the absorption surface of the gut by 30%.  

“The Omega 3 Fatty Acids in DeviGuard also reduce infection and the effects of stress in the weaner. Overall, as shown in on farm trials, DeviGuard improves survival rates by boosting immunity to disease as well as helping both prevent infections and aid recovery from infections.  

“No wonder weight, feed intake, growth rate and FCR are all enhanced by including DeviGuard in the diet. Especially as this natural growth enhancer is an ideal replacement for Zinc.”

 Ron Casserly then reminded producers that stimulating the appetite in both growing pigs and lactation sows had a major impact on overall performance.  “Thus the key role of Matan XL in ensuring your sows do not feed their litters too much ‘off their backs’ and that growing pigs grow plenty of lean meat. Matan XL, developed by Devenish Nutrition, is the big appetite generator, which has revolutionised the delivery of amino acids to the pig.

 “Including Matan XL in your feeding regime boosts feed intake and delivers essential amino acids plus easily available energy at the same time to encourage lean growth.”

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 14:04
“ZUPREVO can truly be described as a breakthough in the treatment and prevention of Bovine Respiratory Disease,” Mairéad O’Grady of MSD Animal Health told veterinary surgeons attending the product’s NI launch.
Professor Willie Donachie, centre, microbiologist from the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, guest speaker at the launch of Zuprevo was welcomed by vets, from left, Bert Allison,  Ballymoney, Alan Johnston, Portadown, Jeroen Van de Ven, MSD Animal Health northern Europe, and Fergal Morris, MSD Animal Health NI & ROI. Professor Donachie played a pivotal role in the further development of Heptavac P Plus for sheep and is adamant Pasteurellosis is also a major threat to cattle health. Zuprevo is licensed for the treatment and prevention of Bovine Respiratory Disease caused by a broad spectrum of pathogens, including Pasteurella multocida.
 “Fast acting Zuprevo is rapidly absorbed from the subcutaneous injection site to reach peak plasma concentration in the blood after just 23 mins, before quickly concentrating in the bronchial fluid and lung tissue.
 “Equally important it is also long lasting being effective in the lung tissue for up to 28 days against key pathogens such as Mannheimia haemolytica and, of course, Pasteurella multocida.
 “All too often on farms when dealing with BRD it is race against time so the very speed with which Zuprevo acts is a huge step forward. 
 “Administering Zuprevo to prevent and treat BRD on beef and dairy farms is made simple and labour saving thanks to the low dose volume of only 1ml per 45kg body weight up to a maximum of 10ml per single injection site.”
  “Thus Zuprevo is ideal for busy farmers and their vets as just one injection is required for cattle up to 450kg body weight,” the MSD Animal Health veterinary advisor noted. 
 “Compared to products used until now on local farms Zuprevo not only has the lowest dose volume, but offers the huge advantage to beef producers of the shortest meat withdrawal period of just 47 days.”
Continuing Mairead reminded her fellow veterinarians that broad spectrum Zuprevo is licensed across the UK and EU for the treatment and prevention of BRD caused by Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida and Histophilis somni, the three most prevalent bacterial pathogens in the BRD complex. 
 Supplied in 20ml, 50ml and 100ml bottles Zuprevo has a highly soluble, cattle-specific formulation so is easy to inject, even in cold temperatures.  
 The launch of ZUPREVO rounds out MSD Animal Health’s extensive Lung Health platform for cattle, which in the UK includes the therapeutics RESFLOR®, NUFLOR®, the vaccine BOVILIS® Bovipast RSP and diagnostic tools plus services that allow veterinarians and producers to develop customized BRD management strategies. 
Farmers seeking further information on the role of Zuprevo in their herd health regime should consult their advising veterinary practice.


An eminent microbiologist, who played a key role in the development of Heptavac P Plus vaccine for sheep, has visited the province to remind farmers that Pasteurellosis is also a major threat to cattle health.
 Professor Willie Donachie from Scotland’s famous Moredun Research Institute told vets at the Ulster launch of Zuprevo that this unique product had a huge role to play in preventing and treating illnesses caused by a range of bacteria including Pasteurella multocida.
 “The quest to give farmers and vets more power in their battle to control Bovine Respiratory Disease led researchers to a new molecule, Tildipirosin, and the development of Zuprevo.
Looking forward to the launch of Zuprevo are, from left, Ian Graham, MSD Animal Health,  Keith McKeeman, Clare Veterinary Group, Ballyclare, Mairead O'Grady, MSD Animal Health, guest speaker Professor Willie Donachie, a microbiologist at the world famous Moredun Research Institute in Scotland, and David Strang, Knockanaboy Veterinary Clinic, Dervock. Professor Donachie, who played a pivotal role in the further development of Heptavac P Plus for sheep, sees Pasteurellosis as also being a huge threat to cattle health. Zuprevo is licensed for the treatment and prevention of Bovine Respiratory Disease caused by a broad spectrum of pathogens, including Pasteurella multocida.
 “Farmers in Northern Ireland, as in Scotland, have long been aware of the need to use Heptavac P Plus on their sheep flocks to prevent losses due to Pasteurella, but the same attitude must be taken to preventing losses in cattle. Bovipast RSP is the only vaccine that protects against the key viruses RSV and PI3 and Pasteurella haemolytica. It is proven to be highly effective at preventing the clinical signs associated with Pasteurella haemolytica.

 “Zuprevo is a truly unique product and as a microbiologist I see its development as a massive move forward in our fight against the three main pathogens causing BRD in cattle, including Pasteurella haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida.”
 A theme taken up at the Zuprevo launch by Canadian Vet Jeroen Van de Ven, who is now based in Belgium with MSD Animal Health, but covering all of northern Europe.
  With Denmark about to take the EU council of ministers Presidency he noted that rapidly reducing the use of antibiotics in animal feed, including milk replacer, was a top priority with the Danes. 
 Thus farmers in regions such as Northern Ireland, where the inclusion of antibiotics in milk replacer powder is not uncommon, will face tighter controls, when as seems likely, the Danes achieve their aims at EU wide legislation level.
 A situation where using Zuprevo in a well planned animal health regime will be essential in any calf rearing unit. Not least on Rose Veal production units at a time when two key livestock regions of the UK, the west country and Northern Ireland, are seeing a growth in this milk based production system where stock are finished fast at 10 months under contract to groups such as Blade Farming South West Ltd and Linden Foods Ltd.
Bovipast RSP is also increasingly used in veal farms as it is the only vaccine that protects against RSV, PI3 virus and Pasteurella haemolytica.
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 13:04
Rathfriland based veterinary surgeon Aurelie Moralis urges lamb producers to vaccinate now against pasteurella pneumonia and clostridial diseases in order to maximise the benefits achievable.
Looking forward to the Texel Club Open Night on Mon, Aug 1 at the Bell family farm, Newry Rd, Rathfriland, are, from left, MSD Animal Health vet Mairead O'Grady, Elliott Bell and local vet Aurelie Moralis. A wind turbine designed for lowland sites and this crop of shearling rams are just two of many attractions at an event for all the family.Photo: Columba O'Hare
 “Some flock owners put off vaccinating until August or even September, but this is not worth the risk as valuable lambs will surely be lost in the meantime,” commented Aurelie from The Veterinary Clinic in Rathfriland.
 “The reality is protecting 100 valuable lambs with a vaccination programme costs less than the loss of a single lamb. In unprotected flocks the loss of more than one lamb to either clostridial disease or pasteurella is almost inevitable.”
 Based in the heart of Co Down, close to the Mournes Mountains, Aurelie and colleagues work in an area densely populated with sheep. 
 “Our advice is to ensure that lambs born this past March and April get their first shot of Heptavac-P Plus by shearing time at the latest and their booster four to six weeks later. This protects them against pasteurella pneumonia and clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney, which is another big risk from June onwards.”
 “Lush aftergrass and a switch to meal feeding increases the danger of pulpy kidney so often the best, fastest growing lambs are lost.
 “Farmers have already been reporting losses due to pneumonia this summer, the changeable weather conditions having made the problem worse. A pasteurella pneumonia outbreak can kill up to 10% of lambs in a flock and the trigger for the disease can be not only extremes of weather, but also routine tasks such as dosing, weaning and mixing of batches.
  “So delaying vaccination until late summer or until the first couple of lambs are lost does not make sense.  Ewes vaccinated in the weeks prior to lambing with Heptavac-P Plus will pass on immunity to pasteurella pneumonia to their lambs via their colostrum, which lasts for up to 4 weeks after birth when the lamb should then itself be protected by vaccination.
“At The Veterinary Clinic, Rathfriland we strongly advise our lamb producers to avoid that costly gap in protection against pneumonia. Why take the risk of delaying injecting?” veterinary surgeon Aurelie asked.
 “To protect increasingly valuable lambs throughout the season they should receive a 2 shot course of Heptavac P Plus, with the first shot administered from 3 weeks of age.  The second shot 4-6 weeks later is essential to provide adequate immunity and must not be overlooked.  We advise that sheep farmers vaccinate their lambs now, if they have not already done so, to prevent unnecessary losses this summer.” 
Kiwi Farmers Follow Ulster
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:50

ABERDART, a high sugar grass variety popular in NI, is enabling New Zealand hill farmers Kerry and Miharu Boon to finish lambs faster without using brassica crops.

Experienced at fattening lambs on flat paddocks under irrigation in mid-Canterbury on South Island Kerry Boon saw the potential and bought Two Peaks Farm in the hills near Mawaro, South Canterbury seven years ago.

A farm where free draining slopes with shallow soils rise from 300 to 837 metres above sea level and snow falls each winter. However Kerry and wife Miharu, with the on-call help of Kerry’s father Colin, have worked hard and established a tidy one-man farming operation fattening lambs and cattle in good time.

“We thought we could fatten lambs up here and that it would give us more options. I can hold stock instead of having to be a price taker when everyone else is selling them as stores,” explained Kerry,

Pasture renewal is a key New Zealand farmer Kerry Boon with sons Josh and Ben check on their one-year-old Charolais-cross steers and heifers in a AberDart high sugar grass paddock.factor, as was the purchase three years ago of an additional 80 hectares to allow for more control of grazing options on today’s 729 hectare farm carrying 4,500 stock units, of which 55% are cattle, 30% are sheep and 15% are deer that will be sold as weaners.

Among the new grasses tried and tested at Mawaro - which means Coal Creek in Maori - the high sugar perennial ryegrass AberDart has stood out for its ability to fatten lambs and young cattle.

“ AberDart certainly speeded them up after weaning, I was amazed at their weights and phoned the lamb drafter to get him in earlier,” Kerry commented.

Lambs are sold at weaning or drafted by weight each week until the end of February and on AberDart pasture have averaged 400 grams of liveweight gain a day, which is the equivalent of any intensive lamb fattening farm in New Zealand.

“We used to grow 12 hectares of rape for fattening, but can do this on AberDart instead with just 6ha of rape put in as an insurance if it gets dry,” added Kerry.

The Boons’ beef steers and heifers are similarly grown to exacting standards – the cattle being produced for a Canterbury grass-fed beef contract supplying Japan can put on 2kg a day grazing pasture.

“Typically the steers will make 1.5kg a day from mid-spring to early summer so they’re putting on an extra half kilo when the grass is at its best quality,” said Kerry, who had 60% of steers and heifers at target weights by 18 to 20 months old with the rest cashed before 24 months.

“The contract requires the right meat colour, a pH of less than 5.8, a fat cover at about 5mm-8mm and the cattle have to be a specific weight so basically we need them well fed and content.”

The mix of AberDart, clover and timothy with the herbs chicory and plantain has proven beneficial to animal health, as evident in lambs that “bloomed and didn’t take a backward step”, added Kerry, who is the head sheep convener for the Mackenzie Agricultural and Pastoral Highland Show Society.

“I find the AberDart very good for establishing herbs and clovers in the sward. It gets away and then slows to let the clover grow with it.”

“It’s not a tall grass but it’s certainly dense with fine leaf, there’s a lot there when you grab a handful and evenly grazed AberDart paddocks look like a carpet.

“ Back in NI Banbridge based Samuel McCausland Ltd tel; (028) 4066 2277, supplies farmers through agricultural merchants with premium mixtures based on Aber High Sugar Grasses and AberDai white clover.

cowCam Online
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:21

COWCAM CCTV from LUDA Elektronik of Sweden now has an online feature letting farmers see and hear their livestock on a mobile phone or computer from anywhere with internet access!

cowCam via your Mobile from anywhere!

This unique CowCam Online facility ensuring cows about to calve can be checked, even when you are miles away from the yard, is distributed by Agrihealth.

For details of your nearest stockists and further information Freephone Agrihealth on 0800 731 2490 or browse www.cowcam.online.com CowCam Online can also be seen in use by visiting luda.tv/62

Already popular UK wide CowCam CCTV has an 800 metre range from calving pen to hand held sound and picture monitor or ordinary TV set. Now this additional CowCam Online service offers extra peace of mine at calving time for those with an Internet access phone or laptop.

Commenting William Hurst of Agrihealth explained that, “CowCam Online is a web service provided by LUDA Elektronik AB of Sweden as an extension to their farming surveillance systems.

“The online equipment was included with every CowCam package sold since last February so existing owners can also quickly log on at minimal cost.

“Unlike most rival products, the CowCam camera comes with a 10m night vision, wide-angle lens producing quality pictures, even from poorly lit sheds. Making this high quality, Swedish CCTV package the practical solution to livestock surveillance at a distance. Technology offering the choice of high quality sound and pictures to a TV, hand held monitor or over the internet to suitable mobile phones and laptops. In short, peace of mind for less than the loss of one heifer calf!”

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