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on October 9, 2013

Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2013 announced

Scottish pig producer Ian Davidson is honored for forward-thinking breeding techniques.

Scottish pig   producer and breeder Ian Davidson, has been named Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2013 at a ceremony held at Grosvenor House, in London's Park Lane.

Davidson's business, Mossie's Pork, supplies around 8,000 pigs annually to supermarkets via Scottish Pig Producers. Since May 2012, his team has worked closely with JSR to produce more robust, disease-resistant pigs, using the JSR Geneconverter 400 sire line.

Tim Rymer, JSR Chairman, was delighted for Ian, known as Mossie, as the win means he is the second JSR customer to pick-up the award two years running. "Where he really stands out is in his approach to pig production," says Rymer. "He breeds pigs that are so robust that antibiotics have been significantly reduced from diets and vaccines are gradually being withdrawn - with no effect on mortality and considerable cost savings."

After an increase in antibiotic use made Davidson reassess his herd type, he enlisted the expertise of JSR last year to introduce the new Hampshire (Geneconverter 400) breed of boar to his farm. Since he made the change, results have shown his weaned pigs are 1kg heavier, stronger and their growth rate has improved by about 10 percent.

As well as the physical benefits, Davidson also is saving money. The creep feed consumption has been reduced and, by cutting out the use of antibiotics, Ian has saved £3.70 per pig ­- which equates to £30,000 overall.

Tailoring diets to each stage of growth has also had a positive impact, with feed conversion ratios hitting 2.75:1 (including sow feed) - making the unit in the top five per cent in the UK. Other increases include the meat sold per sow (2.1t) and litter sizes (by 1.5 pigs a sow to 27.44 pigs a sow each year).

Davidson saves money through improved growth rate, but he has cut costs by using liquid fish instead of fishmeal in his pig feed. He ships it in direct from the coast, before blending and processing it in the farm's feed mill. The equipment - namely an old tanker from a chocolate factory - cost him £4,000, but he is saving £28,000 in feed costs.

Slurry is another big issue on Davidson's farm and he has saved £25,000 a year by managing the crop more efficiently and using the slurry produced as one of the main fertilizers on the farm. He installed a slurry store in 2011 and incorporated slurry enzymes to ensure maximum utilization of available nitrogen, along with the beneficial trace elements. The use of pig slurry this way has enabled a decrease in the overall use of compound fertilizers.

As for the future, Davidson is in the final planning stages for a wind turbine to power his pig units. He is also looking to upgrade some of his older buildings with new units, to further streamline the business.

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