Producer Ian Davidson, from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has been named Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2013 at a ceremony held at Grosvenor House, in London’s Park Lane.
Ian’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.
“Ian is an innovative arable and pig farmer and a deserved winner of this prestigious title,” said Tim.
“Where he really stands out is in his approach to pig production. 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pigs that are so robust that antibiotics have been significantly reduced from diets and vaccines are gradually being withdrawn – with no effect on mortality and considerable cost savings.
“This is the sort of approach and high standards that should be promoted to the industry and the consumer.”
After an increase in antibiotic use made Ian 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 per cent.
As well as the physical benefits, Ian is also 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).
European Sales Director, Giles Christie said:
“It’s enormously satisfying when you see one of your customers, who has worked so hard, rewarded in this way. Mossie has put enormous effort into making improvements to his business which have contributed to the success it is today. This award recognizes his achievements and JSR is thrilled to play a part in that.”
Not only has Ian saved 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 Ian’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 fertilisers on the farm. He installed a slurry store in 2011 and incorporated slurry enzymes to ensure maximum utilisation 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 fertilisers, resulting in a significant cost saving.
The introduction of new ideas is a positive move for Ian, who has followed in his family’s footsteps into the industry. The Davidsons have been farming at Moss-Side, in Aberdeenshire, for three generations with their pig production starting in 1950, steadily growing to a 100-sow unit in 1969, followed by a rise to 200 sows in the 1980s.
Today, Ian’s enterprise is an agricultural mixed farm, which includes a 300-sow pig unit and 450 acres (180Ha) of arable land, with the cereal produced on the farm used to feed the pigs.
Having a strong team of staff plays a big part in the success of Mossie’s, too. Ian’s pig manager, Phil Adam – who has been with the farm for 19 years - is joined by farrowing unit supervisor Helen Cruickshank, consultant Paul Wright, and tractorman Stewart Lee.
Mossie’s has continued with its family connections by supplying Davidson’s Specialist Butchers, owned by Ian’s nephew John, which was crowned UK Butcher Shop of the Year in 2012. In addition to this, the farm also supplies two of the finest hotels in Aberdeenshire – the Marcliffe at Pitfoddels and Meldrum House Hotel.
As for the future, Ian 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.