Llwyn yr Arth, Llanbabo, Rhosgoch, Anglesey
Focus Site Project: Reducing vices in a pig unit
Introduction to project:
Llwyn yr Arth is an indoor farrow-to-finish 210-sow breeding unit that sell around 5,200 reared pigs annually. The pigs are sold when they’re 22-23 weeks old at 75-80kg deadweight. Zinc and copper have been excluded from the pigs’ diet since June 2019 due to a proposed future ban. Paul and Samantha believe that this has led to an increase in the cases of vices within their unit and that days to slaughter have increased by 10-15 days in the affected pigs. This has also caused the antibiotic use to increase drastically.
The main aims of the project are to:
- reduce vices in the pig unit,
- improve understanding of the herd’s health,
- explore methods of reducing antibiotic use.
By working closely with Eddie Devlin from Bodrwnsiwn Vets, the aim is to identify any underlying issues which may be causing the vices. This will be done by identifying two fattening pigs out of the herd with vice-related injuries, sickness or behaviour, to undertake testing including, post mortem by the Welsh Veterinary Science Centre.
Carrying out a herd health assessment will help to fully understand the health status of the herd and allow sensible management decisions to be made. It will also be of aid to set management protocols to control and prevent vices from becoming a problem in the future. Reviewing and updating Llwyn yr Arth’s herd health plan every three months is good practice and an effective tool to plan ahead. This will effectively lead to a reduction in costs, and increased profitability and sustainability for the farming business. Improving the understanding of the herd’s health, and reviewing the health plan every three months will also be beneficial towards reducing antibiotic use within the herd.
The antibiotic usage will be recorded and analysed through the eMB-Pigs programme every three months. This benchmarking tool will give an indication of antibiotic active ingredient used per weight of pig on the unit (mg/kg). It will allow the unit to compare with the national average usage and with the unit’s historic performances.
Key Performance Indicators Set:
- Antibiotic usage
- Days to slaughter