Pig Production

What's Changed?
"The big difference between the present day and 15 years ago is nutritionally we realise that individual farms are very different," Gadd explains."Different environment (ventiliation, insulation, stocking density, pen layout and shape), stockmanship, pathogen loadings, genetics (less variation than 15 yuears ago but still enough to explore the effects of different diets between breeds), appetite, docility/resistance to stressors and veterinary supervision/monitoring)." The science of pig nutrition, as well as pig production in general, has grown in complexity as well as cost effectiveness.

Going On Trial 
On-farm trials of feed, equipment, genetics and management are a good idea for any pork producer, if done properly with an understanding of the results that are being targeted and a commitment to carry it out to completion.

 "The best pig producers I know always have had a portion of their farm -- and of their time and energy -- as an on-going test-bed," Gadd points out. Negative results from trials can be as valuable as positive results, saving the producer wasted effort and expense.

Looking for Stress
Most livestock scientists agree that stress can be a significant factor in weight gain, breeding, and susceptibility to disease. But how many producers really pay attention to pigs and the stresses they are under? "I've been walking pig units for 40 years and had a hand in managing pig farms on and off during that time," notes Gadd, who encourages producers to do a pig stress audit every six months and ask the following questions:

  • Are the pigs within the published temperature comfort zone?
  • Are the pigs frustrated in any way?
  • Is there adequate access to water?
  • Do the pigs have room to exercise, as well as space to flee or avoid aggression?
  • Is the stocking density and pen shape correct?
  • Is the floor type stressful?

  • Is the air quality good enough?

Pig Production
What the Textbooks Don't Tell You
by John Gadd 
Nottingham University Press, 2005.

This volume offers a collection of international pig production consultant John Gadd's columns, most of which originally appeared under the title "What the Textbooks Don't Tell You About " in the magazine Pig Progress. Arranged in chapters by their general topics, they include advise on running an efficient pig business, managing to maximize profit, technical issues, diseases, and new techniques with promise. Some of the columns have been modified or updated for this collection; a few are original to this publication. Gadd's started writing the column 15 years ago as he noticed gaps and misconceptions and even outright fallacies in the 35 textbooks on pig production in his personal library. With more than 150 subjects covered to date, he's still finding and writing about hidden corners -- what the French call les introuvables -- in pig production.

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