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Stackyard News Jul 07

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    Stotfold Pig Unit Closes

The British pig industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to its centre of research and development at Stotfold.


The UK pig industries Development Unit, just outside Stotfold in Bedfordshire was opened by Lord Belstead, Minister of State (Lords), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods in November 1984.

Over the years it has undergone many changes but has always been at the forefront of research firmly aimed at delivery of practical opportunities, work which could be quickly disseminated and implemented on working pig farms.

At its peak the unit employed 10 staff and had 300 sows farrow to finish. However major changes in the industry and a fundamental shift in the strategy of the British Pig Executive (BPEX) meant it was no longer needed and over the last six months has been gradually wound down.

The final piece of research work was completed in May 2007, part of the Defra LINK £3.5m weaner research programme. Stotfold's part was to look at weaner diets that maximised the use of home-grown cereals and oilseeds. To the end, the stock performed excellently with weaning to slaughter growth rates of 740g/day and grower to slaughter in excess of 1050g/day.

BPEX Director of Pig Industry Development Mark Wilson said: "Stotfold has been a huge asset to the industry over the years and we are sad to see it go. "BPEX carried out a major review of its research and development and unfortunately Stotfold didn't fit into the new perspective."

Over the years, the work at Stotfold has included:

  • Introduction of soya bean meal to pig diets
  • Copper sulphate as a growth promoter
  • Evaluation of commercial genotypes for sow productivity, growth
  • Performance and carcase and meat quality (Stotfold First Trial)
  • Development of ultrasound technology for carcase composition
  • Blueprint for pig meat eating quality
  • Stotfold sow lactation feeding strategy
  • Phase-feeding - protein requirements of commercial genotypes
  • Established speed of growth and pork tenderness were positively correlated
  • Liquid feeding offers savings of 14p/kg dead weight
  • Liquid feeding halves the percentage of pigs testing positive for Salmonella at slaughter

BPEX has been exploring the redevelopment of the site and planning permission is being applied for. The two final members of staff have been made redundant - Lisa Taylor (manager) and Malcolm Day (stockman).

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