Focus on Piglet Producer
For the piglet producers, 2011 was a year characterised by difficult economic conditions. Many new stipulations will be established in 2012 with regard to the keeping and protecting of animals. Amongst those is the changeover to group keeping and the exit from castrating piglets without anaesthetising them beforehand. We asked three of the young piglet producers working voluntarily for the ISN to let us have their opinion.
Philine Göckeritz, aged 24, member of the Young ISN advisory team, keeping 200 sows in a closed system, administrative district of Nienburg.
Are we not producing piglets at higher cost than we would pay for buying them on the market?
At present, the piglet producers find themselves in a very critical situation. As to their existence, the situation is even threatening for many a farm. We ourselves are quite well off, because we produce our piglets in a closed system, thus avoiding problems to occur with selling the piglets. Yet, if you look at piglet production alone, you will find that producing piglets is quite an unprofitable thing to do with the feed costs being as high as they presently are. So, it should be well considered: Are we not producing piglets at higher cost than we would pay for buying them on the market? For me, there are three methods helping to get out of the price-low: quit production, keep it up or suspend it and hope for times to get better again.
With the difficult market situation, increased requirements come along in the field of animal protection. Thus, the competitive conditions are made more difficult for the German piglet producers. Animal protection is on everyone’s lips. Everyone’s getting worked up about it, everyone is always interfering and everyone wants to have a say. In the end, the majority of the persons involved are losing sight of the most important thing: that the animals are better off if you pay attention to the measures stipulated. The farmer is forced to make immense investments which in the end prove to cause high costs but on the other hand do not bring higher revenues. They just mean much more work and do not always result in better animal welfare.
Philipp Lütjens, aged 22, member of the Young ISN advisory team, keeping 800 sows (piglet rearing included), administrative district of Heidekreis.
Large herds, large piglet batches, good health
Cooperating with another farmer, we started our enterprise in the open countryside in 2005, building a new stable for sow keeping. Beforehand, we had been piglet producers, receiving batches from many different farms. Which would be kind of a disaster from the health-requirements’ point of view. Certainly, we are not much better off than our fellow professionals, with all those high feed costs and low piglet prices. But with a view to the size of our enterprise, we surely can benefit from certain cost advantages and ensure by long-term supply contracts with the pig fatteners a larger willingness to house in animals. We always try to optimise our production costs, yet without endangering the herd’s performance in the long run. To achieve this goal, we try to avoid bad feed quality or buying less gilts.
I even find optimising the biological performance a major aspect to help overcoming the disastrous market situation. We are already in a position now to take advantage for our enterprise. On the one hand, there’s the good health among our animals, which is also supportive on realising high biological performance. Given 800 sows, we can offer comparatively large batches of piglets which are then sold and transported in our own vehicles to predetermined pig fatteners. We need to ask for and to realise good consulting.
Not each of the farmers will succeed in getting through this period of bottom prices, the more so as many a farmer has to cope with high-priced reconstruction. This way, the market is going to be self-correcting. We will make every effort to have our enterprise be among the
better ones and to thus secure its existence. With farmers giving up their farms over this period of time, the quantities of piglets on offer will be less again.
Thomas Bröker, aged 33, ISN board member, keeping 500 sows (piglet rearing included), administrative district of Emsland.
Oversupply: As tough as it is – the market must regulate it!
We the piglet producers are facing a tough situation at the moment. Piglet oversupply is entering the market with full force. Yet, from my point of view it’s not the German piglets that are too many in number. It’s rather the Danish and the Dutch piglets who find their way numerously over the border.
It’s not acceptable that money is made in the upstream and downstream industries while we the piglet producers are the only ones to pay extra money. As tough as it is – the market must regulate it. Some farms need to finish, for reducing the quantities of piglets on offer. The slaughter companies, too, might be helpful with lowering the weights required for the fattening masks. This way, the pig fatteners would make it to more pigs per place per year at better feed conversion and would be able to house in more piglets sooner.
Currently, we are investing in a new, modern farrowing house with an ecological wood-chip heating system. On top of that, I have already been given authorisation to do reconstruction work to install group keeping and will shortly have the building started. Since expansion will be more difficult in future, I will see to investing in the downstream industry. Like for instance in the wood-chip heating system. On marketing our piglets, we attach special importance to direct relationship. For us, that is a good solution. We rely on our high-quality piglets together with the direct and close relation to the fatteners to decisively safeguard our sales.