After concentrating on improving its breeding herd for the past seven years, a UK pig breeding company, JSR Genetics, is turning its attention to growth rates and feeding efficiency with a new £2.1 million (US$3.3 million) 8,500-place pig weaning-to-finishing facility.

Commenting on the new facility, JSR’s managing director Glenn Dams, said: “Hopefully this is just the first stage of our latest investment strategy as we turn our focus on to production, growth rates and feed efficiency issues.

“Obviously, we will be monitoring pig performance closely in the new unit closely to justify our investment and if it meets our expectations (the company expects a payback period of no more than seven years), I am hoping we can go forward with further investments in modern finishing facilities.”

Investment key to success  

Mr Dams was speaking after Tulip UK chairman Carsten Jakobsen opened the new unit at Decoy in East Yorkshire recently with the message that sustained investment in modern weaning and finishing facilities incorporating the latest science and technology was vital to the ongoing success of the UK pig industry.

The facility, which took two years to design, plan and build, includes five nurseries with six pens, all fully slatted with plastic slats. It will be supplied with progeny from JSR GP90 parent gilts mated with the JSR Geneconverter sire line. The piglets will be delivered in weekly batches of 800 from JSR’s 1,800-sow Haywold commercial unit, filling each of the five nurseries – all under a high level of biosecurity.

Care and attention  

Mr Dam said the new site had been designed specially to minimise labour and maintenance requirements. It would be operated by two full-time staff, who will be able to maximise the amount of their time spent on monitoring the performance and welfare of the animals. The facility includes office space, a visitor’s reception, and shower facilities.

“In addition, this new facility will be supported by our production and technical teams with feed and growth data collected monthly from an annual throughput of almost 20,000 pigs. The facility can also be monitored remotely from the JSR headquarters in Southburn through the Skov Farm Watch programme when necessary, so that we can get the best out of it,” he said.

Mr Dam, who places great emphasis on “properly trained people,” also hoped the Decoy unit would open up new training opportunities for workers at JSR.

“Good people are essential to get the best out of pigs,” he said. “We have already launched a special apprenticeship scheme to help young trainees gain their certificates of competence, and I am sure this new unit will offer them new opportunities to pick up extra skills in pig management, as well as allow us to improve growth rates and FCR.”

Looking ahead, Mr Dams believes the global market looks “pretty good,” after two good years for the UK producers. However, he admits the pig price may slip back slightly before increasing again.

“That is why we are gearing ourselves up now, so that if the market does become more competitive, we are better placed to meet the challenges, including any rise in production costs. It is important to invest for the future.”

Positive outlook  

He is supported by JSR chairman Tim Rymer, who said: “As an industry, despite the challenges faced in the past 10 years, we continue to make huge strides in genetic advancement and, as a result, see huge potential in breeding performance. However, the industry must invest in modern facilities if it is to realise this potential. This will help ensure we improve our competitiveness, while also maintaining our reputation for high welfare.”

Mr Rymer pointed out that the company’s new Decoy unit would also help it understand how its pigs performed in a commercial environment – and provide a new opportunity for further research into the utilisation of the so-called “liquid gold” – separated pig slurry used as fertiliser – on arable crops.