New pig monitor farm announced

QMS pig specialist Allan Ward with farm manager Wayne Ducker and farmer Patrick Stephen
QMS pig specialist Allan Ward with farm manager Wayne Ducker and farmer Patrick Stephen

An Aberdeenshire farm has been announced as Scotland’s new pig monitor farm in an initiative jointly supported by Quality Meat Scotland and Opportunity North East.

Mill of Carden Farm near Inverurie, owned by Patrick Stephen, has a commercial herd of 530 sows housed on straw.

The farm currently employs four members of staff, including farm manager Wayne Ducker, and runs JSR females with a Danbred terminal sire.

Mill of Carden has been run as a pig unit since the 1960s with the most recent new building being a French-designed weaner shed which was put up 18 months ago and features an innovative ventilation system.

Pig health and welfare are a priority on the farm and Mr Stephen is keen to look at ways to further improve his herd’s health status as part of the farm’s involvement in the monitor farm programme.

“We take a real pride in what we do but there is always room for improvement and there will definitely be opportunities to introduce changes to further improve our system,” said Mr Stephen, who is also chairman of Scottish Pig Producers.

“We would also like to focus on weighing and data collection to ensure we can very closely monitor our costs of production.

“We’re looking forward to sharing what we learn along the way with other producers and hopefully their businesses can benefit from our experiences too.”

A further area which Mr Stephen is keen to explore is an evaluation of the two different types of feed systems which he currently runs – one is ad-lib and the other is restricted feeding.

Allan Ward, Pig Specialist with Quality Meat Scotland, said: “The farm is a great example of a pig business which is performing well but recognises that there is scope for further improvement and that small changes can deliver significant gains.”

“The enthusiasm of Patrick and his team to get involved in this project and to share what they learn for the benefit of the whole industry gives us a great base to start from. We’re looking forward to working with the Mill of Carden team and I’m certain the project will deliver a great deal.”