Podcast: The importance of pig farm visits

13-10-2021 | |
Podcast: The importance of pig farm visits
Podcast: The importance of pig farm visits

In this edition of the Real P3 podcast, Dr Casey Bradley joins Philip van der Brink on the receiving end of questions while Pig Progress editor, Vincent ter Beek, hosts an interesting discussion around swine farm visits. This is important for the producers, as well as consumers.

The Real P3 podcast series is an initiative where pork professionals worldwide are interviewed about challenges and solutions in their day-to-day work. Swine farm visits happen regularly for Dr Casey Bradley, a swine technology expert from the Sunswine Group in the US, and Philip van der Brink, a senior swine nutritionist and owner of Nutrisign in the Netherlands. These involve a lot of preparation, analysis and research and can take a few hours or a full day.

Nutrition work from the field

Van der Brink visits pig farms weekly to conduct “nutrition work not from a theory book but from the field.” He says the goal is to gain deep knowledge of the operation – what is going well and where improvements can be made to achieve the farmer’s goals. Working together with the farmer is important.

Analysing the pigs, seeing how muscular they are, and looking at their general condition will give a good picture of what is happening at the farm, said Van der Brink. Another important aspect to look at is the pigs’ manure. “We can determine how close the picture you see is to what the ideal picture should be,” he says.

Van der Brink noted that farmers know their farms and their pigs, but a specialist enters a farm with “fresh eyes,” and because they have been to many other farms, they can identify areas that the farmer might have trouble seeing on his own. A “walking benchmark”, says Ter Beek, who noted that although farmers may be able to also identify problems, a specialist can assist with the right approach to solving them.

Innovation, research and development

Dr Bradley works a lot in innovation, and research and development, and typically visits pig farms relating to research work. She also does a lot of data work around business intelligence and looks closely at numbers around farm data. “Smell, the taste of the air, sounds, different vibration… there are a lot of other things that I look at,” says Dr Bradley.

On a farm visit, Dr Bradley looks at feed and water, primarily, as well as heat and ventilation. She will identify draft areas, dunging patterns, underweight pigs, or a variation of piglets and address any issues identified. On the data side, she ensures that the right data is collected and collected accurately. “When working in barns, it’s about what we feel and what we observe,” she sasy.

Pigs for the public

Ter Beek asks if pig farmers should be more open to visits from the public. Dr Bradley and Van der Brink discuss what this could mean and what this could achieve.

Earlier episodes of the Real P3 podcast series

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

Natalie Kinsley Freelance journalist