Over the last couple of years Myerscough College in Lancashire has hosted days for pig breeders and enthusiasts. They have covered a range of topics such as vaccinations, the new on line movements as well as practical demonstrations with Peter Gott.
Peter is a traditional pig advocate, recognising the importance of slow growth and taste in the pork he uses for his farm shop and farmers markets.
Ever the showman his demonstrations are always entertaining and definitely inspiring.
Most of the breeders who attend keep traditional breeds and most in small numbers.
The most recent event at Myerscough had a presentation on sow nutrition. It was very much based on commercial pig production but it was good to know that as traditional breeders we probably all exceed the national target of pigs born, weaned and reared!
Equally satisfying was the knowledge that through our less intensive systems our sows go on producing litters for longer, well beyond the expectation of a “commercial” sow.
One of the reasons commercial sows do not tend to go on beyond their 4th or 5th parity is they are unable to maintain enough cover of back fat. Basically, years of refining pork production to produce lean meat at small carcass weights has meant breeding gilts and sows also carry less back fat. As a result they can’t hold enough condition over a period of time so it has an effect on the length of their working usefulness.
It was also interesting to note commercial units are taking their pigs onto larger killing weights. Obviously all about profit not taste.
The basis of any herd is of course good selection of stock and good management and we will be covering this in our Selection and Showing Course on the 24th and 25th of March. We hope you can join us.