Farm visit: Norwegian farmer considers reducing pigs

03-02-2020 | |

Lower profit margins could spell a reduction in pig production on the mixed farm of May Britt Lode, based in the south of Norway – and concentrate more on beef instead. Unless pork prices change in the very near future.

Although the demand for pork meat is quite low in Norway it is always steady which provides a return for those farmers who are in the business.

Currently, there are just over 81,600 breeding sows in Norway, a total that has risen by 6% since the same time last year. And when looking at all pigs in Norway including finishers, the total figure escalates to over 811,000.

Mixed farm with cattle and finisher pigs

May Britt Lode runs a mixed farm at Jaeren in Rogaland county in the south of Norway, with dairy cows, beef production and a pig finishing enterprise. The farm has been in her family for over 400 years and Lode has been in charge of running the farm for the past 7 years.

Lode says: “I inherited my parents’ farm in 2012, and have been in charge of it since then. The farm has been in my family since the 17th century so it has an excellent heritage.”

Lode buys in all her pigs as piglets and fattens them up ready for slaughter. It’s a fairly straightforward system in the country. She says: “I do not have any sows on the farm. I buy all my pigs as piglets weighing around 25 to 30 kg each and feed them for about 3 months. At that time they are hopefully about 85 kg dead weight when slaughtered.”

Concentrates and roughage in the feed diets

In terms of feeding the pigs, Lode uses mostly concentrates with some roughage as well included in the diet for the animals. She says, “I feed them concentrates and they have access to straw and silage should they want it. The price I receive per kg is approximately 23 Norwegian crowns (€ 2.32), which could be better.”

Norway enjoys an excellent health status in its national pig herd and operates very strict regulations surrounding disease control.

No cases of African Swine Fever in Norway

Lode says: “Norway has luckily never had any cases concerning African Swine Fever. There are very strict rules concerning communicable diseases which include, for example, controlling the people who are allowed into the pig housing and outlining which specific clothes that they have to wear.”

“Norwegian pigs have a good health status. If there are any cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), for example, the entire stock is slaughtered, and the buildings are totally disinfected,” she says.

Lode buys all her pigs at an age of roughly 25-30 kg. Photo: May Britt Lode

Lode buys all her pigs at an age of roughly 25-30 kg. Photo: May Britt Lode

Demand for pork is low but stable

Looking to the future, Lode would like to maintain her dairy production levels but there could be changes on the horizon for the beef and pig herds. “The demand for pork meat is not very high, yet it is quite stable. My immediate plan is to maintain the levels of production as they are today.”

Lode adds, “However, if I have to change my farming system in the near future, I will reduce the production of pigs which is less profitable. At the same time, I would probably increase the production of beef to compensate. That is unless the prices paid to farmers for pork rise dramatically going forward.”

Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist