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Podcast: A diversified farming operation in South Africa

In this 28th edition of the Real P3 podcast, Dr Casey Bradley speaks to Myles van Deventer, the managing director of a diversified farming operation, Baynesfield Estate, in South Africa. He talks about some of the challenges he faces in his mixed crop, swine and cattle operation where they even grow avocadoes.

The Real P3 podcast series is an initiative where pork professionals from around the world are interviewed about challenges and solutions in their day-to-day work.

Podcast: A diversified farming operation in South Africa

Pigs, cows, maize and avocadoes

“We have a 2,200 sow farrow-to-finish operation and then, together with a cattle operation, a feed mill and maize operation that provides the maize component to that feed mill for the pigs. And we also produce avocadoes for the export and local markets, too. So, we’re quite diversified, but piggery operation is probably the mainstay of our business,” says Van Deventer.

The farm aims for about 28-29 pigs sold per sow per year. About 16 years ago in South Africa, the average weight for most producers was about 78kg per pig dressed weight. Now, says Van Deventer, they achieve close to 90kg.

The challenge of mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are what keeps Van Deventer “up at night” and remain a big challenge. “Pigs are quite sensitive to mycotoxins, and this is something we are still trying to get to grips with...if you do not have a handle, then you can really suffer some big production losses in performance of your finishing pigs, and then even in your breeding unit, too.” He notes that this is a multi-factorial problem, which causes more problems.

ASF becoming more widespread

Another challenge is African Swine Fever which, he says, is becoming much more widespread amongst the small-holder population of pigs. “It is a big concern, and everybody is really hot on biosecurity at the moment,” he says.

Economic optimisation of pig diets

In terms of applied research, Dr Bradley and Van Deventer discuss the economic optimisation of diets, not the biological optimisation of diets: “So, for instance, you’re not feeding the pigs to get to their optimum weight, you’re feeding the pigs that you make the most money per kg of weight produced.”

In the previous weeks, Pig Progress published earlier episodes of the Real P3 podcast series: