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Farming

Small steps to improving pig fertility

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SIMPLE changes to pig management can result in significant improvements in fertility on units struggling with reproduction.

Factors influencing pig fertility are many and varied and can be due to infectious or non-infectious causes, says pig vet Dr Alex Thomsett, of The George Veterinary Group.

Non-infectious causes are often those that producers have more influences over and, in many cases, usually mean very simple changes, Dr Thomsett told farmers participating in a recent FarmingConnect webinar.

“A few small tweaks to management or the approach to reproduction on-farm can easily change a fairly difficult situation into a much better picture without going through a whole heap of blood sampling,’’ she said.

Among these is temperature stress; although this is more commonly associated with heat, cold can be a factor too.

Sows can find it difficult to adapt to changes in temperature and it can lead to more returns of service, poor cycling and higher numbers of abortions.

In outdoor herds, ensure pigs have mud wallows to dissipate heat and, to protect from direct sunlight, create shaded areas.

“This can be done very simply, with a few poles and a length of gale break or similar material,’’ Dr Thomsett advised.

Changes in day length can result in seasonal infertility in the autumn.

As this affects gilts, in particular, Dr Thomsett recommends selecting gilts that are early to go through puberty rather than those that are delayed.

Pigs need a minimum of 16 hours of daylight so ensure light exposure in housing is good – even cleaning whitewashed walls or lightbulbs can make a difference by better reflecting light at sow level on the back of the eye.

Light is more difficult to control in outdoor herds because this system is beholden to the time of the year and, for this reason, Dr Thomsett stressed that it was vital to get all the other issues around fertility working well, including nutrition.

Gilts need the right nutrition balance to prepare them to come into first service and to support them through the first service.

“Gilts and young females are still growing through their first pregnancy and it can often be forgotten that when a pig is lactating, her body is preparing for the next cycle’’, said Dr Thomsett.

In herds with longer lactation periods, Dr Thomsett suggests providing piglets with supplementary feeding to support the sow.

Mycotoxicosis is another consideration and can significantly interfere with herd fertility but Dr Thomsett said this is an unlikely cause if the farm has good quality sources of grain and straw.

Adding binders to feed is the best form of defence because these absorb harmful mycotoxins.

Vaccinations are an important tool for preventing infectious causes of infertility.

Ensure that the vaccination record of any bought-in stock is up to date and quarantine these animals, to ensure they are fit and healthy before entering the herd.

Carrying out a herd health check to establish health status and therefore which vaccinations are needed is greatly beneficial, said Dr Thomsett.

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Farming

Council issues important update for poultry keepers in Pembrokeshire

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IN RESPONSE to the increased findings of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in poultry in England and in wild birds across Great Britain, combined with the increased risk levels, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales has agreed to the introduction of housing measures to help protect poultry and other captive birds from avian influenza. 

The All-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been extended and updated to include new housing measures which will take effect on Monday 29 November 2021. 

From 29 November 2021, all bird keepers in Wales will, therefore, be required by law to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of disease.

These housing measures are intended to build on the enhanced biosecurity requirements that are currently in place in the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

All keepers (regardless of numbers of birds kept) will therefore continue to be required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

Preparatory measures may include
checking existing housing structures are fit for housing
considering how welfare of birds can be enhanced while they are housed
and, where necessary, putting up additional housing or netting.

To assist keepers with this, guidance and a biosecurity checklist are available on the Welsh Government website.

Observing the strictest biosecurity measures in all aspects of poultry and bird keeping is the most effective way to reduce the risk of disease incursion to domestic poultry and other captive birds.

It is vital that strict biosecurity measures continue to be observed while birds are housed, as housing does not mitigate the disease risk as much as effective biosecurity.

Housing measures will also come into force in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from 29th November.

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Farming

Award for Inspirational Young Volunteers at Keyston YFC

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KEYSTON Young Farmers Club (YFC) volunteers won the Pembrokeshire Volunteering ‘Mike Beckett’ Award (for group aged under 25) in November 2020, almost a year later they finally received their trophy.

When the pandemic started the group rapidly adjusted their activities, not only to continue to support each other, but also the local community. Helping local people with deliveries of shopping, prescriptions and even birthday cards. Providing a lifeline for those who were isolated but also being a friendly face – and ‘ray of sunshine’ in their yellow shirts. They also took their fundraising efforts online and with a ‘virtual’ Coast Path challenge raised over £2700.

Louise Wilkinson from PAVS (Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services) said, ‘I was very proud to present the young volunteers with their award, the group showed amazing resilience and community spirit, to support their community, during a very difficult time. Really demonstrating the YFC saying “good farmers, good countrymen, good citizens”.’

In October Eleri George, Chairman, represented Keyston YFC alongside other ‘Community Champions’ from across Wales at the official opening of the Sixth Senedd in Cardiff. During the event Eleri was able to speak to Prince Charles and the Queen about their work in Pembrokeshire.

The 2021 Pembrokeshire Volunteering Awards will be held on 9th December thanks to continued support from South Hook LNG.

Photo Caption: Louise presenting the Award to Eleri and members of Keyston YFC

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Farming

Increase in people hare coursing and lamping without landowner’s permission

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE’S Rural Crime Team is reporting an increased number of calls regarding persons suspected to be Hare Coursing, and/or lamping rabbits on private land, in which permission has not been sought.

The police say they are asking that land owners in rural locations please remain vigilant, ensuring to keep gates and access points secured.

A spokesperson for the police told The Herald: “We urge any land owners that suspect hare coursing is taking place on their land, to report it to the police immediately, as hare coursing is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004. Any land owners that suspect individuals are using their land to go ‘lamping’, without the landowners permission, should also contact the Police.

“We would ask members of the public not to approach any individuals that are suspected to be hare coursing or lamping. Instead, we ask that you contact the Police and provide as much detail as possible.

“You can contact Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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