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Pig producer set to move all sows outdoors as part of £4.5m expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 10:23 09 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:23 09 March 2018

Wayland consultant vet Steve Youngs MRCVS of the Oakwood Vet Group, Harleston. Picture: Steve Youngs.

Wayland consultant vet Steve Youngs MRCVS of the Oakwood Vet Group, Harleston. Picture: Steve Youngs.

Steve Youngs

An East Anglian pig producer plans to move all its sows outdoors as part of a £4.5m investment programme focused on satisfying a growing taste for high-welfare pork products.

Charles Bowes. operations director, Wayland Farms. Picture: Wayland Farms / Cranswick Plc.Charles Bowes. operations director, Wayland Farms. Picture: Wayland Farms / Cranswick Plc.

Wayland Farms, part of Cranswick Plc, already processes around 20,000 pigs a week at its Watton facility – but aims to boost capacity to meet rising consumer demand for quality-assured pork, both at home and overseas.

A meeting with contract producers in Diss heard that all of Wayland’s breeding sows will be on outdoor farms within the next 18 months.

Two indoor units in Norfolk are scheduled to be decommissioned and replaced with new, larger herds in Norfolk and Suffolk, and the vacant sites will be refurbished to provide additional finishing accommodation.

Operations director Charles Bowes said the company had streamlined its genetics and breeding programme and restructured its finishing operation following a multi-million pound investment aimed at improving pig health and increasing production efficiency.

“We’re 100pc committed to pig production and here for the long term,” he said. “Our results are progressive, we’re on target to meet objectives and we plan to invest more than £4.5m in our pig finishing facilities during the next year.

“It’s all part of an expansion programme, linked closely to Cranswick’s developments, and its good news for our region’s pigs sector and the British pig industry.”

The company ranks within the top third of UK pig producers and continues to report improvements to herd productivity and performance – but Mr Bowes said the burgeoning prospects for pig production in East Anglia could be thwarted by a lack of availability of suitable land.

“Reasonable rents for light land are hard to come by. Land values remain high and there’s stiff competition from the vegetable growers as they seem to be in a much stronger position than us,” he said.

Another key topic at the Diss meeting was pig health and disease. Consultant vet Steve Youngs from Oakwood Veterinary Group in Harleston, explained how Wayland’s proactive and structured approach to management was minimising medication use.

He said the amount of antibiotics used on Wayland’s farms is below the current pig industry average and its future targets, and the firm has also committed not to use any critically important antibiotics (CIAs) – those prioritised for human healthcare.

“Antibiotic consumption has always been lower in Wayland’s herd compared with the UK national average,” said Mr Youngs. “If we can find an alternative way to tackle disease, then we do – we’re on the right track with antibiotic control and ahead of the game.”

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