Who decides what on the Pig Farm?

23-06-2008 | |
Gadd
John Gadd Topic: Pig Management

From a file marked ‘Labour Use’ on my client’s farms, I recently came across some statistics I have noted down on this subject across the decade of the 1990s, and indeed since then. How things seem to have changed!

From a file marked ‘Labour Use’ on my client’s farms, I recently came across some statistics I have noted down on this subject across the decade of the 1990s, and indeed since then. How things seem to have changed!

In the same way that any good agricultural salesperson should pitch his/her sales presentations to the person who signs the cheques, so a farm advisor like myself should talk to the people on the pig farm who takes the decisions. Just like the salesman, I always make a note of who these people are after I have visited a farm – useful should I return.

Here is confirmation of my past, present and future assessments – the latter two have had to be subjective, of course – of who takes the more important decisions today on the larger (2000 sows plus) and the smaller farms (mostly around 500 sows) which I have visited in Europe over the past 15 years – about 400 in total, I see from my records. If the trend I notice continues, I make a stab of what the future position could be.

(Percentages).                                  
10 to 15 years ago
   Larger (1000sows +).          Smaller (200 sows or less).
Veterinarian              10                        2    Vet rarely used.
Stockperson              45                     23    Took a lot of decisions.
Managers/owners     45                     75    Owner dominant?
      
Present experience.
    Larger farms now                       Smaller farms now
Veterinarian                            25         30  Growing presence on both.
Stockperson/ section heads   25         30   Section heads more involved.
Manager                                 50         40   Managers too pre-occupied?
 
 In 10 years time?
   Larger ( 5000 sows +)                 Smaller (Around 500 sows?)
 Veterinarian                           40             40     Much greater input.
 Stockperson/ section heads  20             10     Trained to follow advice.
 Manager                                40             50     More professional.
 
My guess is that the pig specialist veterinarian will play an increasingly important role (as he is doing now) but will involve himself more in measuring things, forward planning (pig flow and work flow) and management. Those of us at the sharp end of consultancy work realize how much getting these right affect disease prevention. I therefore welcome the veterinarian taking a greater part in the management of the business.

Interesting, isn’t it , that in my last 35 farm visits, mostly to the larger units, that the owner has only been present at six of them and two of these took little part in the discussions. To a certain extent I welcome this trend too, as it shows they have confidence in their managers and are letting them get on with it. As an ex-manager – hooray!

In my next blog I’d like to take this a little further and suggest – from talking and listening to some first-class managers recently – what I think makes a good manager.

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