Moving on from days of fag packet notes

Flavoured toy for pigs
Flavoured toy for pigs

With modern farming it is essential that records are kept and some records are legal requirements.

I often think that some them are jobs for the boys in some centrally heated office somewhere, where they are paid a bonus on any discrepancies a poor farmer might have, or a mistake he may unwittingly perform. There is no room for negotiation.

Black painted pig used as a record keeper.

Black painted pig used as a record keeper.

It is in every breeder of livestock’s interest to record the mundane things which are needed, such as breeding records, how many pigs are born as an example, feed used, veterinary visits, growth rates, feed conversion rates and of course where you have livestock, you also have dead stock, so you record deaths as well.

We are also required to keep a record of livestock movements on and off the farm and when we had the last outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease, the records were a great help in tracing where any affected animals had either been sent to or come from.

There are of course many ways of recording these things and years ago as a lot of farm workers used to smoke, they often scribbled things down on the back of a fag packet.

Thankfully we are much more sophisticated than that now and have generally moved on from notebooks and pencils to electronic devices held in the hand where results can be sent straight to the farm office.

In modern farrowing houses, there is usually a recording form behind each sow in her maternity cradle, either on a board attached to part of that, or maybe on a pull down one on spring loaded small pulley which keeps it out of the way of everything.

Farmer and their workers are very entrepreneurial and I once remember seeing in a farrowing house a painting on a wall of a black pig behind each sow and the old worker who had been there many years used to write on the pig with chalk, the number of pigs and when they were born. He was not at all interested in modern technology, so his boss would go round one week and transfer all the details to something more modern.

Did you know that all pigs have to have toys? There are innumerable types of toys which have to be malleable, so the pigs can gnaw at them or chew on them to keep them from boredom.

Straw would be one such thing, so pigs bedded up on straw would comply. There is a special kind of rope which pigs can chew at, and a soft wooden stake placed inside a plastic tube and fastened to the wall about a foot from the ground allows them to chew at that wood.

There is a range of specialist plastic, round objects which hang from a chain, with a choice of eight different flavours embedded in them and one of the favourites is a liquorice based flavour. Pigs apparently are one of the nearest things to humans and are extremely inquisitive. Officially, the toys need to be changed every two weeks, so it is quite easy to move some of these things round to keep them interested. So yes, farmers do care for their livestock.