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Mick Sloyan, AHDB strategy director, December 14, 2017

We would like to reassure producers, following David Owers recent article in Farmers Weekly regarding AHDB support of LIPs, that we will continue to support their excellent work. In recent years we have provided sponsorship of £100k a year and plan to do so again next year.
We know that the Chair of LIPs has stepped down and they are taking the opportunity to reflect on the future of their organisation and members of the AHDB team have been invited to join a LIPs workshop on 10 January.

Digby Scott, December 4, 2017

I don’t know why I even pretend to be a journalist, albeit retired — just look at how much more effective 'The Colonel’ is. I asked him to describe those BPISG regional distribution centre shutdowns, for the NPA history website. I don’t know what it does to you (if you were there) but it had Ann in tears.

Tony Thomas, December 4, 2017

Technically Red Tractor could slap an "antibiotics free" label on it's products.

Phil Stephenson, December 1, 2017

Why we should support the NPA elections and the NPA

I was elected to Producer Group nine years ago and have been chairman for the last three years.

I am also ‘a simple pig farmer’ – as our recent David Black Award winner put it – and would like to give an insight into why all producers should care about the NPA producer group elections and the NPA…

One of my first tasks as a producer group member was to give a presentation at a conference on the NPA’s behalf, which Zoe (Davies, NPA chief executive) prepared for me. Foolishly, I asked Zoe if I could check or alter it before giving the presentation. That was the first mistake from ‘Mr know-it-all Yorkshire Pig farmer’.

At this early stage of my Producer Group stint, I learnt the reality of the great depth of knowledge of the team that runs our NPA. There was no way I could have written the presentation as well as Zoe did, and I did not change a thing.

As a producer group, we meet five times a year to give advice and guide our NPA officers and see the issues that have to be dealt with.

There is always a long list of issues, and it is fair to say the group never has a dull meeting and that the NPA team always have plenty on their plates.

Typical issues covered include:

  • Dealing with individual farmer problems (in particular recent animal activist incursions).
  • Dealing with a multitude of different agencies (such as Defra, AHDB Pork, Natural England, RSPCA, Animal Aid and Red Tractor).
  • Communicating with the various media outlets and the different issues that each can bring.

This all highlights that we have a team on our side who react very quickly and promote the pig producer side of any argument.

Where would we be if we lost our export licence to China?

Where would we be if regulations on welfare/environment were implemented without first being scrutinised by the NPA team who could then put across the pig sector side of the argument?

Such as it is, our industry would be in a totally different place if the issues of the day, week, or longer term were not dealt with in a professional and prompt manner.

I urge all producers to support the NPA in any way they can – whether this be joining it or standing or voting in the Producer Group election.

See the dedicated NPA election website to nominate yourself for PG or AIG. You can also see who has already submitted nominations and view the election rules. And while you're there, you can take a look at Digby's comprehensive history of the NPA - a reminder of the organisation's roots and what it stands for. 

Hugh Crabtree, November 19, 2017

Calling all Allied Industry members of the NPA!

Please consider standing as a candidate in the forthcoming elections. Nominations are open now and close January 8th 2018. The process is simple and can be done on line. You need a couple of other Allied Industry members to support you, a brief manifesto statement and a mug shot.

There are 110 Allied Industry members at present - all companies trading in the UK pig sector. That's as many as we've ever had since the heady days of the section within the BPA when we just about made our target of 100 company members. This means we should be able to field 15+ candidates to make a good contest of it.
I can't stress enough how important it is for the NPA to maintain its democratic ways and unique prime production side representation of UK pork. It means the NPA is listened to and respected which in turn means the sector has a better chance of prospering as we approach Brexit.

Serving as an elected member of the AIG is interesting, informative, commercially advantageous and fun. What's not to like? Please think about helping to provide the support the association's excellent staff need to ensure the industry we all work in has an exciting, innovative and world class future producing wholesome, safe and tasty pork.

If anyone considering standing wants to know more about it, don't hesitate to contact me: 


David Owers, September 29, 2017

Must read for all Pigfarmers past /present and future on these were such hard times - but so proud of how we in the industry responded at the time. We ain't gone away you naughty Supermarkets (But there are some very good Supermarkets out there now who deserve supporting).

Cameron Shaw, September 12, 2017

Thanks Karl for the recommendation of the flexible hose. This is well recommended by those in the industry, but I believe it requires indeterminate labour which I would like to avoid if possible.
Has anyone experience with SUEVIA model 20 drinking bowls? Placed on the floor next to the food trough, the sow and her piglets I am told can both drink copiously, teaching the piglets to drink.
Presently I have split troughs, with a vacuum valve to control the water level for the sow, with a mini nipple for the piglets, the meal being delivered through Gestal feeders.  This works adequately but is a tad more expensive.

Karl Stephen, September 8, 2017

Have found that using a 25mm flexible hose and tap running the length of the house allows you to give supplementary water. The sows will always eat more if the dry feed is more like a porridge and they are not having to work for their water through a nipple. Nipples are fine for the piglets with a separate header tank to allow for any medication. Cube drinkers are an option although the water can get dirty.

Cameron Shaw, September 6, 2017

We are about to build a new farrowing shed and would like ideas around delivering sufficient water volume to piglets and sows on a dry fed system in a fully slatted farrowing crate.

Job advert, August 22, 2017

Brecon Beacons

160 indoor sow unit. Breeding to finishing. Looking for a working manager. The unit is situated on a mixed farm in the Brecon Beacons. 

Three-bedroom centrally heated cottage available. 

Please contact Kaye 07773674851/01874658268.

Fran Baird, George Veterinary Group, August 18, 2017

We are having some ridiculous restrictions imposed on our farms following what are likely to be avian TB lesions identified at slaughter. It takes a minimum of 8 weeks for culture to come back negative for bovine TB during which time pigs have to be slaughtered at the end of specific days or in specific abattoirs with carcass ineligible for Chinese export.

They then re-culture again which takes a further 8 weeks making a total of 16 weeks minimum per case of avian TB.

The original notes for guidance about the Chinese export are clear that avian TB WAS NOT to be regarded as a problem but Advisers in the TB department who fail to understand our industry have unilaterally decided to impose these draconian rules.

We have tried to have a sensible discussion with the APHA vets centrally including applying a veterinary risk assessment structure PRIOR to culture such as;

Previous isolation of bovine TB in pigs

Previous isolation of bovine TB in cattle

Pigs sourced from outdoor sows in high risk zone

Open access to feed stores.

We have not had any success but need to press on as otherwise we will end up dropping from 9th in the food export stakes.

Before we carry on the fight to London we need to identify the scale of the problem.


Any producers or vets who are experiencing this issue please make Zoe or myself aware.

Tim Bradshaw, August 17, 2017

Louise, Steve Kettlewell at Middleham is very good; you’ll find his details on t’internet!

Louise Dorward, August 16, 2017

Can anyone recommend a supplier of shredded paper/newspaper in North Yorkshire. Thanks Louise

Job advert - Wayland Farms Ltd/Cranswick plc, August 14, 2017

Due to expansion, a new vacancy has arisen for an Outdoor Pig Unit Manager and Assistant for a 750-sow Outdoor Breeding Unit producing 7kgs based near Swaffham, Norfolk. This is a new position within Wayland Farms complete with new equipment and in-pig gilts that will commence batch farrowing in November 2017.

You will be actively involved with all areas of the pig breeding unit in order to meet the business requirements for the company.

Email or post CV and covering letter to or FAO: HR, Cranswick Country Foods Plc. Brandon Road, Watton, Norfolk, IP25 6LW.

Zoe Davies, August 11, 2017

We would like to say a huge Congratulations to our very own Office Manager Andrea today for passing her AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting with a whopping 93% pass overall and for gaining a distinction. We are all very proud of her!

Andrea Vickers, August 8, 2017

Are you taking part in #Farm24 on the 10th August 2017?  Would you be willing for NPA to share your posts on our website and possibly on the Great British Pork facebook and Twitter pages?   If you're interested in sharing please contact me at the NPA office. 

Vicky Morgan, August 1, 2017

Outdoor stockman

Due to expansion we are looking for a forward thinking, hard working individual to join our team on our progressive outdoor breeding unit.  We are looking for someone who has a real passion for outdoor pig production and wants to make a difference.  Experience is preferable but a genuine desire to get up and go and keep moving the unit forward is more important.

Please contact either Malcolm 07584019110 or Vicky 07968980239

Nick White, July 28, 2017

Yes, sad news indeed about Jon Roads, who had served the industry well for many years.

The funeral is on Friday August 11th at 2pm at Mendip Crematorium, Old Wells Road, Croscombe BA3 5RR, and afterwards at The Bell Inn, Evercreech.

I am unable to attend as away on holiday that week, so if anyone I know from the pig industry is going please represent me.

Richard Longthorp, July 26, 2017

Sad to hear about Jon Roads. He was always a big supporter of the pig industry never more so than during the dark days of the late nineties early noughties when he would travel long distances to support demonstrations. Thanks Jon.

Thames Valley Cambac - job ad, July 13, 2017


Thames Valley Cambac Ltd is the UK’s largest and probably most successful pig marketing organisation.

Founded over 40 years ago and operating out of two main centers, Wallingford Oxon and Selby North Yorkshire, it has developed into being the only truly national pig marketing co-op trading on behalf of pig producers close to 3 million head of stock per annum.

Due to continued growth and succession planning the company is seeking applicants for the position of Livestock Trader Account Manager to join the existing team.

The successful applicant will have to be enthusiastic, hardworking and operate with integrity. A team player with the ability to communicate both accurately and at all levels across the industry will be essential skills.

Experience within the livestock marketing sector is not essential but knowledge/experience in the ancillary trade of agriculture would be a significant advantage.

Full driving license is mandatory.

Remuneration package will be commensurate with the successful applicant’s skill sets and experience but will include a company vehicle and entry in to the company’s pension scheme.

Please forward your application accompanied with your CV for the attention of Mr. P. Woodall General Manager at the address below.   


Thames Valley Cambac Ltd.

Pipe House

Lupton Road



OX10 9BS

Richard Longthorp, July 11, 2017

Whilst we have already had some excellent nominations for this year’s Chris Brant Award, I would stress that it is still not too late to nominate someone

There is, I suppose, always a bit of a risk, given the relatively comfortable position the industry currently finds itself in, for a kind of apathy to prevail.

If indeed there is any such apathy, it would in my view be a poor reflection of the legacy of Chris Brant who simply didn’t have a strand of 'apathy DNA' in his body.

It would also be an unforgivable missed opportunity to recognise one of those fantastic people who have and continue to go the extra mile for our British Pig Industry.  

So … Thinking about nominating someone? Then do it.

Not thinking about it? You should be. It’s industry’s small way of saying Thank You.

To nominate click here


Mick Sloyan, AHDB Pork, June 8, 2017

No agreement yet on exporting trotters to mainland China. It is still with the Chinese authorities. Regular contact is being made with the relevant people in Beijing to press our case.

Lizzie Owers, June 4, 2017

Any answers for Chris Leamon please?

Chris Leamon, May 31, 2017

Quick question can we sell trotters to China yet?

Richard Longthorp, May 22, 2017

I would urge all pig producers to contact their parliamentary candidates reference the NPA manifesto recently mailed out to all members

The government decided to hold an election to get a clear mandate for Brexit negotiations. That gives us a big opportunity to lay the pig industry marker down for Brexit. If the government want a mandate for Brexit then it is more legitimate than ever to ask probing questions and get firm commitments on what outcome they are going to fight for. And if we don’t get firm commitments or get equivocal weasely politic speak then pig producing voters need to know. Hall of Fame / Hall of Shame scenario if you like.

Stephen Winfield - AHDB knowledge exchange senior manager, April 25, 2017

Following news that the licence for the use of Zinc Oxide is to likely to be withdrawn from the market, AHDB Pork is looking for producers who have successfully removed Zinc Oxide from their rations.
We would like to work with these producers to make case studies available that demonstrate to the wider industry the range of alternative options available for consideration. If you wish to remain anonymous you can, we just need to create a picture of how to successfully manage without the use of Zinc Oxide.
This initiative follows the recent recommendation coming from the CVMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use) that the licence for the use of Zinc Oxide should be revoked and the product withdrawn from the market. 
If you can help with a case study or simply provide some information please get in touch with your KE manager or email so we can discuss the matter further

Robin Traquair, April 23, 2017

It is very good to see the top 25% of pig farmers making some money,on average £122,200. The worst lost a bundle however.

How many sows did these farmers have ? Without such figures these statements are a waste to time.

Richard Lister, April 11, 2017 

Hi Chris in response to your queries:

The 50mg/kg target that was set by the government is for all livestock sectors combined and it is based on ESVAC. ESVAC is the agreed European standard for reporting antibiotic useage and that is why we are using it. The good news is we are well on target to meeting  the 50mg/kg all sector target.

The ESVAC calculation for the pig sector will be based on the total AB useage divided by the number of finishers sold (at an av wt of 65kgs) plus the sow numbers (at 240 kgs). The weaners transferred are only for benchmarking purposes.

I agree the public will not understand ESVAC  alongside a good many other things. What will be important is that we can demonstrate antibiotics are being used responsibly and that we are  refining and reducing that useage.

Chris Leamon, April 10, 2017

When the government talks about reducing antibiotic use to 50 mg/Kg is that based on ESVAC method of calculation(eMB), or live weight sold?  

As ESVAC number is not effected by liveweight of sold pigs, if you sell pigs at 60kg you will have same number as someone selling at 120Kg if you us same amount of antibiotic at weaning time but per kg sold its half. I think the public will not understand ESVAC and doing it by liveweight sold is better, and if pigs are moved from one site to another that number can be transferred as well easily.

John Mackinnon, April 5, 2017

With reference to the Royal Society paper, at last some scientific sense is emerging even though it is mathematical modelling. This supports the views of Hurd et al 2004 (Journal of Food Production 67: 5. 2004 pp980-992) and Hurd et al 2010 (Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 7: 11. 2010 pp1305-1322) that use in animals per se is of low risk to humans. The one health approach has always seemed to me to be a bit one sided and this helps to redress the balance of thinking.

Andrea Vickers, April 3, 2017

We are receiving an increasing number of requests from future vets looking for work placements over the summer months.  Currently we only have a handful of members who have advised us that they are willing to accept students.  If you are interested in being able to offer a placement usually for two weeks (you do not need to be able to provide accommodation) please contact me.  All students are vetted (excuse the pun!) by NPA through their universities.

Richard Lister, April 3, 2017 

We would like to hear your views on new long-term antibiotic targets for the pig sector.

I am representing the NPA on a task force set up to negotiate new antibiotic usage targets for each sector this year. Mark White from the Pig Veterinary Society will provide the veterinary perspective.

Through the task force we will commence formal discussions with the Government in June, with a view to reaching agreement by the end of July.

The targets will be based on usage, rather than sales, and set from a 2015 baseline using industry-wide data collated on the eMB-Pigs database.

It has not yet been decided whether the target will be a specified usage figure (mg/kg) or a percentage reduction but we can set the target over any time period we wish (within reason), so we will probably be looking at three to five years.

We want to hear your views on the following:

  • What do you think is achievable as an antibiotic reduction target for your business? E.g. 20% reduction, 50% reduction?
  • What time frame should the reduction plan cover? Is three to five years sensible?
  • Should we also be looking at other targets, for example, specific restrictions on Critically Important Antibiotics or on how antibiotics are administered to pigs?

To comment publicly on the forum, email 

Please include ‘antibiotic targets’ in the subject field, state your name in the email and confirm you want your views to be made public.

Alternatively, you can feed into our consultation anonymously. Simply state in your email that you want your views to remain private.

The targets will be discussed at the spring regional meetings (dates below), so please come along and make your views known.

This is too important to leave to someone else!

We have already held a very well attended northern regional in York. The remaining dates are:

  • South Central: April 4, 6.30pm, Newbury RFC, RG14 7RW
  • East: April 11, 6pm, Diss RFC, IP22 5RG
  • South West: April 25, 6.30pm, Gypsy Hill Hotel, Exeter EX1 3RN

Getting these targets right is absolutely critical for our sector, which is why we are going to consult as widely as possible within the NPA membership, so as an industry, we can come to a figure that is challenging but achievable.

To read more about why we need to set these targets and how they might work, see this article in Pig World


Zoe Davies, March 30, 2017

Robin, apologies for any offence caused by our wording. In fact, NPA is trying to make precisely the opposite point, ie that 'unskilled' does not mean lacking in skill. 

The definition of 'unskilled' as not educated to degree level is a Government definition (as per the VISA scheme categorisation). It has implications for who is allowed in and who isn't under immigration policy.

I find the definition extremely offensive. We have been trying to say in all our communications that we need access to both skilled and 'unskilled' EU labour, as defined by the Government. But we have been at pains to make it clear that 'unskilled' is a Government definition that absolutely does not mean 'without skill'! 

Lizzie and I have made that distinction clear in previous communications, on the website, in media articles and when I appeared in front of the EFRA committee in Parliament.

On this occasion, however, we were not explicit enough and the article on our website has been changed.

I hope this goes some way to reassuring you that NPA does not recognise that clumsy and offensive distinction made by Government between 'skilled' and 'unskilled' labour. We value the skill and dedication of our workforce enormously!

Robin Wilson, March 30, 2017

Apparently the NPA now considers me to be ‘unskilled’

“A survey of our members has highlighted the extent to which we rely on permanent, skilled and unskilled EU labour (by ‘unskilled’ we mean not educated to degree level), rather than short-term seasonal workers.”

So unless you have a degree you are an idiot !

Am I the only one to feel offended by this?

Charlotte Evans, AHDB, March 28, 2017

Health management is one of the key themes for the EU PiG project over the next four years, with year one focusing on optimising the use of antibiotics and biosecurity. The project, funded by the EU commission, is aimed at sharing knowledge and best practice with pig producers across Europe. The project team has received a number of best practice ideas on health management from the 13 member states already, including the UK.

The valuable knowledge, generated by the network, will be shared widely with producers in the Autumn. If you would like to put forward management strategies for the removal of zinc, or any other ideas, please get in touch by 31 March to be entered into the EU PiG grand prix, or by 1 June for your idea to appear at PIGS2022 (Charlotte Evans 07813 430605

Kate Mellor, AHDB KE manager, March 27, 2017

With regard to the risk of removal of ZnO from feed, for the moment at least, the guidance is all around mitigating risk of illness in the herd or within individuals. There is an excellent webinar with content from APHA and LMS on cleaning and disinfecting it’s also important to remember that cleanliness of the indirect environment whilst often overlooked is really key. How often to you clean the weighing scales, for example?

The living environment also has a big part to play. The buildings and environment team can help you understand your buildings, looking at your ventilation and thermal patterns and guiding on how you can optimize the environment for better health. To arrange a visit, contact 

For those producers who are milling and mixing their own rations, it’s worth taking time to look at grist size distribution. Avoiding stomach ulcers will bring benefits for feed utilisation as well as reducing aggression and improving welfare. There is a good case study looking at use of a Bygholm sieve to view here

Lastly, there are dedicated sessions on establishing weaners within the stockman training programme. For those who have already studied the course you may want to look out your course notes, for producers wanting to understand what training options are available from AHDB go to The weaner management module can be attended as a one off ad hoc session. Our knowledge exchange colleagues are also available to deliver on farm training, including specific aspects of weaner management, to contact KE email 

In the meantime you might want to view the helpful videos on establishing the weaned pig in the practical pig app.

Ellen Noakes,  AHDB Senior Marcomms Manager Pork, March 27, 2017

An update on eMB. Today we have added an additional “how to” video to explain how to use the eMB as a full medicines book. Click to view.

Following feedback, there has been a software update which will now allow retrospective data to be added to the system so users can enter their figures in any order. i.e. 2016 data followed by 2015 if they so choose.

Lastly, the knowledge exchange team would like to remind producers that they, and others at AHDB, are available to help with any specific questions or difficulties being experienced. Contact 

Stephen Tuer, March 27, 2017

John. I'm guessing that Tom is, like most of us, already doing or trying to do most of the things you recommend. And currently also using zinc, possibly with other meds immediately post weaning.
Unless we can raise our game beyond what current thinking deems possible we need more ideas and solutions in order to remove zinc without increasing other antimicrobials.
Are there novel solutions out there, adopted in other countries, better or different feed ingredients available, improved disinfection techniques,etc. Or is it a case that the U.K. will be the only ones to adhere, as usual?

Andrew Houston, March 27, 2017

Tom, it looks like I need to get those Unifeeders to you quickly. That will help cover half of John’s points!

John Mackinnon, March 26, 2017

Tom, what an interesting and important question you raise. It is also all embracing and really could be the subject of a book. What you are asking for are pointers on how to achieve success in probably the most difficult procedure in pig production, which is establishing the weaned pig. If this is achieved effectively, subsequent growth is usually trouble free. Working on the premise that at weaning the young pig is struggling to adapt physiologically, to establish an acidic environment in the stomach, to stimulate a new array of digestive enzymes, to establish a normal and beneficial gut flora and to develop its immune status, the last thing we should be doing is to give them antimicrobials. So, off the top of my head, the bullet points I would suggest to you are:

  • Remember that pigs are individuals, not part of a collective noun
  • Appreciate that most systems are designed for the convenience of the stockperson, not the pigs
  • Appreciate that young pigs retain their communal feeding and drinking habits for some weeks
  • Good weaning weights are essential. Aim for a total litter weight of 100kg. This in itself is another subject.
  • Ensure that no pig is weaned at a weight of less than 6kg
  • Which means that you must strive for a high level of uniformity at weaning
  • Wean as mature a pig as possible – as close to 28 days as you can get. This needs attention to farrowing spread and therefore management of the weaning-to-service interval
  • Avoid thermal stress at weaning, maintaining pigs in their thermoneutral zone at all times
  • Appreciate that pigs have a circadian rhythm. Provide night and day.
  • Ensure that feed intake is maximised – freshness, palatability, accessibility, lack of competition, little and often. Pigs won’t eat feed that smells and tastes of pigs, or any other taint
  • Avoid feed spoilage. Storage, exposure to air – small pellets have a large surface area, hygiene.
  • Feed specification, high digestibility, quality raw materials, uniform particle size
  • Clean water, easily accessible. Not a fecal soup.
  • Prompt action with sick pigs or pigs failing to thrive
  • Establish optimum group size for facilities available
  • Maintain good environmental control – freedom from thermal stress, draughts, insulation
  • Appropriate vaccination programme
  • Careful observation and stockmanship

Just some points off the top of my head. Other contributors may add more (or disagree).

Tom Allen, March 24, 2017

Sadly, whether right or wrong to ban zinc, it is all a bit irrelevant to be honest now if they likely ban it.  Obviously as a producer I would have preferred this not to happen (especially at a time when we are working our behinds off to reduce antibiotic usage) because of the great results we see from its ability to reduce weaner pig scours.

So more importantly what are our strategies going to be to counter the fact we can’t include it in diets and can’t utilise antimicrobials as much as we used to, yet we still want to retain growth and health in our weaners.

John, using your experience and knowledge give me some bullet point take home steps I can be pushing on my units.

John Mackinnon, March 23, 2017

Thank you Zoe and Richard for rising to the challenge! I think the problem with the whole subject of AMR is the assessment of actual risk to human health. The study of AMR has been a fund raiser for University departments since the first Swann Report was published in 1969 and it continues to be a source of money for research.

Of course it is important and of course antibiotics must be used judiciously and it is right that we control their use in pig production carefully, but I firmly believe that the jury is still out on whether or not the human population has been actually harmed by the use of antimicrobials to control infection in pig production. If the precautionary principle is applied to agents that have antimicrobial activity, and therefore potentially select resistance, it must be applied to them all.

To my mind, the precautionary principle is flawed by lack of science – better not to get out of bed in the morning than risk the vagaries of the day. So, where do we stand then with the knowledge that the czrC zinc oxide resistance gene enhances and probably selects colonisation with Staph. aureus (including MRSA) and Staph hyicus (Slifierz et al 2014 and 2015; Nair et al 2014)?  

Where do we stand with the knowledge that  zinc oxide increases the occurrence of tetracycline and sulphonamide genes in the intestines of weaned pigs (Vahjen et al 2015). Where do we stand with the knowledge that zinc oxide can cause marked perturbation of the gut flora of weaned piglets (Starke et al 2014)? Are not the pointers for zinc oxide similar to the pointers for conventional antimicrobials? I personally believe that the risk of using zinc oxide is low as I believe it is also with the proper use of antimicrobials , but the presence of risk has to be acknowledged.

If we are overly risk-averse, which I believe is the case with society in general nowadays, we must treat zinc oxide in the way that we treat other risks. This is precisely what EFSA and EMA are doing (see page 140 of the EFSA review – EFSA Journal 2017: 15 (1) 4666). When researchers are unsure of their findings, unsure of their conclusions or they want further funding, they suggest that further research is necessary. This is fine and is normally an honest assessment. Such is the case with the AMR story and such is the case with zinc oxide (Yazdankah et al 2014).

Richard Lister, March 22, 2017

Disingenuous not, pragmatic yes.
Those countries attempting to impose the removal of zinc are  using considerable amounts of colistin which hardly seems to be a desirable outcome.
Being on the moral high ground, now that is heady stuff.
Good to hear Philip hasn't lost the art of getting free consultancy!

Chris Leamon, March 22, 2017

Philip when you are doing your refurb of farrowing houses consider putting in Milk Cups from Opticare, we fitted them 20 months ago, using there feeding regime, and most importantly cleaning routines. We have seen big improvements in growth especially the smaller weaned pigs. At the same time withdrawing Zinc and reducing in feed medication as BPHS score now is very low. At this moment in time, its Win win, win.

Tim Bradshaw, March 22, 2017


In response to your question about sow feeders we are using a very simple ad lib system which seems to work well. We have a standard auto feed line, (we use compound pellets ), this fills a standard bottle. There is then a steel pipe that extends to the bottom of the trough with an approx 25mm gap at the bottom, you would need a flat bottomed trough.

You have to have a different drinker assembly whereby the nipple extends away from the trough so that no water can get in. The weighted ball that is normally on a string in the bottle is removed so that the sow has free access to the feed. We restrict the amount she can have via the scale slide on the bottle until a couple of days after farrowing ; from then on it’s ad lib.

Yes, some sows will play with the feed and get too much out but overall we are very happy with it and have good results in terms of litter weight and sow condition. We had the luxury of installing this in a 120 place new build having experimented previously in an older building.

Zoe Davies, March 21, 2017

John, thank you for your helpful contribution, as always. As you will be well aware, one of the points that the CVMP could not be sure on was the contribution of Zinc Oxide to co-selection for resistance because of a lack of evidence. Whilst we all accept that it would probably need to go at some point, right now is not the time. 

Our frustration was borne out of the fact that at the moment there is not enough evidence to ban Zinc, whilst there is plenty of evidence to suggest that our antibiotic use is too high and needs to be reduced in a sensible way. The Government has told us that we have to set challenging reduction targets this year. Pig farmers and their vets have in the main already responded really positively to that challenge, but clearly things will get more difficult which is why the removal of Zinc at the same time will not help!

John Mackinnon, March 21, 2017

You asked for comment on the Forum about zinc oxide. So, here goes as a debate starter - my comment is unlikely to be popular!

It is disingenuous of NPA to take the moral high ground on antibiotic use but at the same time support the use of zinc oxide.

Putting aside any concerns about environment pollution, the primary effect of zinc oxide in pig feed is antibacterial and, as such, it selects resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. Copper sulphate did the same thing and this was known back in the 1970s. The only difference I suppose is that zinc is used for a short period of time post-weaning, but that is the time when the young pig is struggling to establish beneficial gut flora and allowing resistant bacteria to colonise at this time is probably not a good thing.

Kevin Gilbert, March 19, 2017

Well done Philip. Something of a Scottish takeover. Wee Nicola would be proud of us!!

We too are going to be refurbishing our farrowing rooms. I take it you are meaning sow feeders? Microware has some interesting piglet feeders.

Philip Sleigh, March 19, 2017

I was wondering if anyone could help advise me on what feeders to use in our farrowing rooms. We are planning to refurbish them this summer and one feeder that has been offered is a GROBA AD-LIB, does anyone have advice on how good or otherwise they are? Or what would you recommend?

As Kevin has been unsuccessful in stimulating discussion I thought I would give this a try!!

Kevin Gilbert, March 17, 2017

My intention of firing up the Forum hasn’t worked. Come on AHDB. Surely someone there reads the Forum. Let’s hear about the plans to improve the eMB.

Kevin Gilbert, March 5, 2017

Good news about the eMB reaching 50%. Hopefully work is ongoing to improve it's user friendliness. Here in Scotland it has been compulsory to use it in our quality assurance scheme since the end of last year. Quality Meat Scotland would also like us to use it as our on-farm medicine book. However, so far it has been unfit for this purpose. Comments please! Let's try and keep the Forum going.

Nick White, February 9, 2017 

Yes, I was also there when TPT visited to lend support to our campaign with Winnie, and recall that Winnie playfully tried to nibble her leg (Hugh and I were quite jealous!).

I agree with Hugh that she was thoroughly professional and look forward to seeing any photographs that can be found of the occasion.

Hugh Crabtree, February 9, 2017

I'm very saddened by the news that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has died. I expect quite a few of you will remember her contribution to our cause in 2000 in Parliament Square.

I confess at the time I was slightly surprised by Shandwick's (the company handling the vigil PR) choice of celebrity to help boost publicity for the industry's plight but I need not have worried. Tara was on time, actually knowledgeable about matters agricultural, co-operative and just good fun.

She certainly brought the press out. I have some good pictures of her on the stump with Winnie which I will ask Alistair to post when I have them scanned.

Meantime, on behalf of the NPA's then campaign group, my sincere condolences to Tara's family on her untimely death.

Hugh Crabtree, January 19, 2017

No pressure at all apparently! Excellent piece on the One Show last night and good job Richard and Duncan. Kershaw clearly nervous of the pigs - but they looked great and the whole thing a very positive message about the pig industry. Very well done.

Kate Morgan, January 10, 2017

An exciting and rare opportunity has opened up due to one of our fieldsman reaching retirement age! Pockmor is a successful and progressive family business who continue to grow through support from their excellent team.

The right candidate will have experience with nursery and finishing pigs and will be competent on farm machinery.

Dealing with pigs on a number of third party sites round East and North Yorkshire but also looking after 2 of our own sites.

A car, phone and good rate of pay awaits a reliable, loyal and forward thinking person.

Please contact Kate 07875 416842 for more information.

Richard Lister, January 6, 2017

No pressure then Hugh.

If we eventually make it to screen (the One Show) it is unknown at this point what part will be screened in the 4 minutes scheduled. Vet Duncan Berkshire put in an excellent performance and hopefully that will come across.

Hugh Crabtree, January 6, 2017

I expect a number of people heard Coilin Nunan interviewed on Farming Today this morning (link here). He of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.

It seemed to me that he was rather behind the curve with respect to what the UK pig industry is doing and has achieved in reducing antibiotic use.

If someone like him is as ill-informed as he appeared to be then it clearly highlights the need for the comprehensive action being advocated by the NPA and AHDB Pork.

Or perhaps he knows perfectly well and just used the opportunity to mislead in order to keep the pressure on.

He credited the poultry sector with success but implied pig industry bodies are in denial about the need even to be taking action. He also said that pig farmers need a change of attitude. Roll on next week when Richard Lister gets the chance to set the record straight.

David Turton, December 20, 2016

What severe financial pressures failed to do, Osteoarthritis has managed, to stop me keeping any pigs.

Having started in 1976, I have a lot of memories and experiences. If I may I will express my thoughts concerning the decline in fresh pork consumption and tail biting as reported on your website.

Decline in Pork Consumption.

  1. In my opinion the Medical profession have ruined meat quality. Their constant demands that meat should be very lean for human health purposes have led to meat being extremely tough and lacking in taste. This is especially so with Pork. Natural fat is part of natures design, it is a reserve of energy to be used in times of challenged health, helps keep the mammal warm, strengthens the immune system, and adds significantly to the succulence and eating quality of the meat.
  2. Back in 1976 there were three distinctive selling weights of pig. Porker, up to 45Kg deadweight, for fresh meat consumption. Cutter, up to 60Kg deadweight, again fresh meat consumption. Baconer, 75Kg deadweight, as the name implies for making Bacon and other processed products. This weight of pig was never sold as fresh pork. The meat trade paid a differential price accordingly. There was always 13>15p per Kg more for a Porker pig than a Bacon pig, what ever the average price.

Since the advent of the EU single Market in 1992, UK pig Farmers have been forced through economic circumstances to increase the weight of finished pigs, to the point where the average deadweight is near 80Kg. Thus the British public are being only being offered fresh pork from pigs that are of a ‘Euro standard weight’ which is too lean, lacks succulence and taste and is tough to chew compared to the tradition Porker-Cutter pig that was used pre 1992. The quality eating experience of fresh Pork by the consumer has been completely abandoned by both Retailer and Farmer.

In my opinion, there needs to be some form of return to how it was in pre 1992, if economically feasible. For succulence and taste a quality pig needs 10>12 cm back fat, plus intra muscular fat. Also Ad lib fed to slaughter. 

Tail Biting

  1. Breed of pig, the quieter in nature the breed is, the incidence of tail biting reduces.

  2. Feed, nothing fancy that will upset the gut. In Human terms, quality Bangers, Mash and fresh Broad beans. A feeling of contentment, enjoyment, and the need to have a damn good snooze after eating. It is said that a pig will eat anything. May be, but if it feels irritable and uncontended having eaten, it is more likely to ‘take it out’ on its mates. If the feed the pigs are given also causes loose faeces this can lead to tail biting.   

I always found it a huge pleasure to see pens of pigs contently asleep having eaten well, and enjoy the sweet smell of quality pig turd.

I share these thoughts of my observations over many years, some most probably will disagree, but I hope it might be of help.

Mick Sloyan, December 16, 2016

Approximately two years ago AHDB Pork embarked on a strategy to Rejuvenate the Image of Pork featuring Pulled Pork. The strategy was essential because the British pork industry faced (and still faces) issues with falling consumption of pork, while the chicken market has enjoyed a sustained period of growth.

That is why we are planning to spend an extra £1 million over the next 3 years to Rejuvenate the Image of Pork. The next phase will feature Midweek Meals.  The goal is to position pork as an ideal choice for midweek meals by creating dishes that are relevant to consumers and meet the midweek meal criteria, which places health, convenience and a less than 30 minute cooking time as priorities.  This is where the biggest challenge lies.

Marrying an industry need with a consumer one is a complex task, especially for the midweek meal, where pork currently struggles to feature.  It goes without saying that we need to spend levy wisely so we are currently undertaking in depth consumer research to ensure the campaign hits the right mark with the consumer.  We also need the support of processors and retailers and we believe the best time to run this high profile campaign will be September 2017.

Changing consumer perceptions about pork will take several years to be achieved, and we believe that the best way the industry can do this is for the entire supply chain to work together.

The new AHDB strategy document is currently open for consultation. To view the document, visit, consultation closes 9 January 2017.

Tim Bradshaw, December 14, 2016

The latest news item illustrating the decline in pork consumption strengthens again how vital it is that new pork dishes should be developed and brought to the market as soon as possible.

Pulled pork is all well and good but we simply cannot afford to be a one trick pony. I would challenge AHDB to to demonstrate to us exactly what pork dishes are in development, to which market they are being aimed at and when and how they will be launched.

Meryl Ward, December 13, 2016

For anyone who hasn't heard but might like to attend, the funeral of Judy Brent, the wife of well-know pig industry consultant Gerry Brent, will be held at 11.30 on Tuesday, December 20, at St Hilary's Church at Spridlington.

Zoe Davies on behalf of NPA, November 30, 2016

We were so very sad to hear about Gerry Brent’s untimely loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with him at this awful time and we want him to know that we are all here for him if we can help in anyway at all.

Richard Lister, November 13, 2016

What a great night again. A huge well done to Simon, John and the Pig world team for putting on another really great event for the British pig industry.

Well done to all those who entered the awards and helped to make the evening such a success.

Again, many thanks to all our AIG members for their support and making the night such an enjoyable occasion.

Personally, I was incredibly honoured (chuffed a la Yorkshire) to receive the Chris Brant Award.

Having been on the inaugural training trip on how to shutdown a distribution centre with CB  and a certain JC, it had a certain extra special meaning.

A big thank you and here's to prosperous pig farming.

Richard Longthorp, November 12, 2016

Another great National Pig Awards event and a big thankyou to John Lewis and his team for allowing us to incorporate the Chris Brant Award into the proceedings.

A self-confessed curmudgeonly, grumpy, old northern git, and initially ambivalent about the awards event, I have to admit that these awards have been a huge success. They have also given t