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AHDB research highlights uncertainty behind lack of investment in pig buildings

5th Mar 2020 / By Alistair Driver

An industry survey by AHDB has highlighted a general lack of investment in pig buildings and infrastructure and provided insight into the reasons behind it. 

Pig Building

Despite the reported ageing of pig buildings and equipment, much of which is reaching – or has already exceeded – its recommended lifespan, half of respondents claimed to have invested £50,000 or less over the past five years, and a quarter have invested nothing.

This suggests that repairs and refurbishments are taking place on a small scale, despite more than a third of pig buildings being at least 21 years old, AHDB said in an article in the March Pig World Buildings Supplement.

The situation is not set to improve in the near future:

  • Only 36% of producers said they plan to invest a similar amount of capital into buildings in the next year
  • 42% claimed they will invest less
  • Furthermore, 35% stated they will spend nothing in the next five years.

Why aren’t producers investing?

When asked what the biggest barriers to investment were, the three most common answers were:

  • Brexit
  • The cost of buildings
  • A lack of available capital.

Other barriers included:

  • Uncertainty about what future welfare codes and legislation will entail, for example, enrichment, farrowing crates and space allowance
  • Availability and retention of skilled staff
  • Impending retirement, with no-one to take over the business
  • The unknowns around future environmental legislation
  • A lack of knowledgeable people to help advise and construct new buildings
  • Not enough funding/grants available to spend on buildings.

You can read the full article on the Pig World website

NPA comment

AHDB building survey 2The NPA stressed that the pig industry must have confidence in its future, backed up by support from the supply chain and Government assistance under the post-Brexit farming policy, if it is to deliver on its goals.

A lot is being mooted at the moment in terms of further improving pig health and welfare, while using fewer antibiotics, reducing our environmental footprint and improving efficiency and productivity,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.

“The industry is very much up for the challenge on all fronts, but in order to deliver what is being asked of us, we need support to update our infrastructure and there has to be an understanding of this across the supply chain.

“New funding will become available under the post-Brexit agricultural policy that could provide opportunities for pig producers but we need to be confident of the future before many will commit to it.”

In the article, the NPA explains what is currently available in terms of support for buildings and equipment through the CAP - and our priorities for future funding under the future domestic 'public goods' farm support system. 

This includes: 

  • New buildings that deliver on the pig industry’s ambitions to achieve high health and welfare standards while minimising environmental emissions
  • Alternative farrowing systems for those who want to move away from traditional crated systems
  • New technology to help control pigs’ environment and monitor variables such as emissions, as well as pig performance and health
  • Equipment that helps reduce emissions and odour in pig buildings
  • Measures that help outdoor producers deliver on the Government’s aims for soil quality and the environment.