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Pig stuff 
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Enthusiastic Gardner

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm
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Location: Wallendbeen NSW 2588
Post Pig stuff
I'm in Windsor having just completed Day 1 of a two day course. Day 1 was "Introduction to Free Range Pig Farming" and was heavy on legislation, codes of practice and pig welfare and nutrition. Tomorrow is all hands on - moving pigs using behavioral methods, weighing, medicating, treating hoof problems and castrating piglets (optional!).

The lady running the course is Lee McCosker (www.australianpigfarmers.com.au) who is now from Inverell.

She had some interesting tales of her early days and the mistakes she made (usually costly ones).

At one point she made the comment that in Australia, there are only 6 genetic lines of Large Black sows and 7 lines of the boars. That's not much of a gene pool!

We also spent a bit of time talking about the economics of pig raising and the importance of establishing your brand and defining your market. She is of the view that properly managed you should be able make a decent living from 70 sows. Compare that to the top pork producer in Australia with 35,000+ sows.

Interestingly, the draft definition of free range proposed by the intensive pig industry allows for 20,000 pigs PER HECTARE!

Anyway, an interesting day. Really looking forward to tomorrow.

Cheers,
Alan

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Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Pig stuff
Sounds fantastic Alan, you wouldn't happen to know when the next course is on...can't seem to find it on the website?

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:00 am
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Enthusiastic Gardner

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm
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Location: Wallendbeen NSW 2588
Post Re: Pig stuff
Not sure, Cai, but she does run them regularly.

Best bet would be to give her a call.

Day 2 was excellent - this was the practical handling stuff...and we got to inject toy pigs with water to treat a nasty disease!

Cheers,
Alan

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[color=#0000FF]Dexter & Jersey Cattle;Pigs; Merino Sheep; Plymouth Rock, Light, Buff & Speckled Sussex, Marans, Faverolles, Orpington and Australorp Chickens; Pekin, Aylesbury & Indian Runner Ducks; Pilgrim Geese; Bourbon Red & Royal Palm Turkeys.


Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:37 pm
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Post Re: Pig stuff
Bigfish_Oz wrote:
draft definition of free range proposed by the intensive pig industry allows for 20,000 pigs PER HECTARE!


Do you think they meant to say 2,000? even that is a lot- 20,000 is a little less than half a squre metre per pig. hardly freerange but definitely suits the 'industry' perception of doing what they have always done- only outside!
have heard a few people say how much they enjoyed the classes run by Lee McCosker. will have to look into it as well.

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:46 pm
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Enthusiastic Gardner

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm
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Location: Wallendbeen NSW 2588
Post Re: Pig stuff
As unbelievable as it sounds, 20,000 is it. Exactly the same as chickens and exactly the same issue - there may be 100 square meters of "free space" - doesn't seem to matter that at that density, they couldn't get to it anyway!

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[color=#0000FF]Dexter & Jersey Cattle;Pigs; Merino Sheep; Plymouth Rock, Light, Buff & Speckled Sussex, Marans, Faverolles, Orpington and Australorp Chickens; Pekin, Aylesbury & Indian Runner Ducks; Pilgrim Geese; Bourbon Red & Royal Palm Turkeys.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:35 pm
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Post Re: Pig stuff
Got to love those free range definitions! I was going to say that figure is for chickens - how shocking that it is for pigs as well :o
Really interesting to know that 70 would see you right as it is so hard to judge on a small scale what it takes to go from hobby to breaking even to making a profit - be great to hear if you can shed any more light on that angle from the course.
I went to a sheep course like this - they really are great and will have to see if anyone is running pig ones in SA.

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:04 pm
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Enthusiastic Gardner

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm
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Location: Wallendbeen NSW 2588
Post Re: Pig stuff
Hi Aurora,

I'm sure there would be someone doing them. If you contacted Lee she could probably offer some advice there.

The figure of 70 intrigued me as well. I guess it is based on 2 farrowings per year per sow (140) at an average 10 per litter (1400) and a survival rate of 80% (1180). I guess that would dress out at about 40kgs per carcass that's around $236,000 @ $5/kg less costs. I guess you could make a decent living especially if you sell a few wearers and gilts.

Lee indicated that you should be aiming for about $75 profit per pig which would come out to just under $90,000 using the above numbers.

You could probably do ok with a lesser number if you could establish a local niche market as the going rate appears to be around $33/kg forthe choices cuts....

The big thing is tat once you hit 20 sows. (I'm pretty sure Qld has no minimum) you need planning approval, environmental approval and a whole lot of paperwork.

One thing I did bring away is that pigs are never easy money - in commercial quantities they are hard work!

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[color=#0000FF]Dexter & Jersey Cattle;Pigs; Merino Sheep; Plymouth Rock, Light, Buff & Speckled Sussex, Marans, Faverolles, Orpington and Australorp Chickens; Pekin, Aylesbury & Indian Runner Ducks; Pilgrim Geese; Bourbon Red & Royal Palm Turkeys.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:34 pm
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Post Re: Pig stuff
Thanks for that Bigfish - I will have to work out our idea on those figs here - we are luckily in a niche area with great popularity and not enough supply of free range 'gourmet' pig - especially berkshire, but yeah hard work!

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Aurora Spring Farm: Wiltshire Horns, Alpaca, Saanen & Toggenburg goats, Peafowl, Heritage breed chickens, Doris a staffy bullie & the verminator-mini foxie Bobby Rae
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Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:39 pm
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Enthusiastic Gardner

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm
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Location: Wallendbeen NSW 2588
Post Re: Pig stuff
Aurora,

One of the things that did come out of the course is that "purebred" old breeds do not grow quickly and attempting to force them results in them laying down too much fat. Lee has a very graphic picture of a cut of meet from a forced old breed pig. The level of fat is astounding!

She promotes hybrids - typically Large Black sows with a Large White boar. This has the tendency to lessen the fat load and hybrid vigor allows you to achieve good growth rates ( I.e 100kgs in the first four months is achievable).

It is important to have a market before you start out. For example, the restaurant trade will accept a fat cover of up to about 18mm, whereas the butcher trade want no more than 12-14mm. People tend to shy away from pork with black hairs (hence the use of white boars as white is genetically dominant in pigs). If using LB sows, you can get B&W pigs, but they are called "Blue Merles" and they have white hair on the black patches. The is only a smaller niche market for black haired pigs in the restaurant arena.

Naturally, using Berkshires or Wessex Saddlebacks with white boars has the same benefits (using Landrace or Duroc boars give the same benefits but with different conformance attributes).

As a by the by, there are NO pure Gloucester Old Spots left in Australia, just as there are no true miniature pigs in Australia.

If enough people get interested, we should look at forming co-ops to market and distribute our product. The primary advantage I see is the ability to meet unexpected demand that arises. it also enables pooling marketing effort.

I think that one of the best things I brought away from the course was Lee's admonishment that you should not think of fellow producers as "competition" - demand still far exceeds supply and a price war has everyone as casualties. If someone tries to move into your patch, talk to them but if the ydon't listen consider moving to a new venue. If you have happy customers, they will follow you.

Cheers,
Alan

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[color=#0000FF]Dexter & Jersey Cattle;Pigs; Merino Sheep; Plymouth Rock, Light, Buff & Speckled Sussex, Marans, Faverolles, Orpington and Australorp Chickens; Pekin, Aylesbury & Indian Runner Ducks; Pilgrim Geese; Bourbon Red & Royal Palm Turkeys.


Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:16 pm
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Enthusiastic Gardner
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Post Re: Pig stuff
Very interesting read, thanks for that!

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