Pig keepers in Wales are reaping the benefits of a healthy future for their herd and their farm finances by taking advantage of Menter Moch Cymru’s herd health plan support.

The Menter Moch Cymru initiative fosters a close working relationship between farmers and veterinary surgeons, creating a strategy tailored to the individual farm and herd’s needs.

Through Menter Moch Cymru, eligible pig keepers can access funding for 80 per cent of the plan’s cost – up to £300 – as well as tailored advice to help improve the health and productivity of their herd

Elin Haf Jones, Menter Moch Cymru development officer, said: “The aim of the herd health plan is to improve herd health, disease control, and pig welfare. Ultimately this leads to an increase in farm efficiency, profits, and sustainability.

“The process includes veterinary consultation and herd health screening for a range of diseases; as well as advice on vaccination, biosecurity, and breeding performance.”

One farmer who has seen a considerable difference to her pig herd – and farm’s finances – since embarking on the plan is Gwenno Pugh.

Gwenno has been keeping Welsh and large white hybrid sows at her farm at Penmynydd near Llanfair PG, Anglesey, for 10 years, as well as running a beef suckler and sheep unit.

There are currently 30 sows on-farm, and in the past few years, Gwenno has been working to make the pig enterprise more business-focused. She finishes around 550 pigs a year and plans to have all Welsh sows on the farm eventually.

All the sows are served by artificial insemination (AI) using a Pietrain hybrid (Maximus-Klasse). Welsh AI is used to keep gilts and the farm’s boar to cover some repeats.

The pigs are then sold direct to the abattoir. Gwenno has also taken a stricter approach to selection to ensure good performance by selling any underperforming sows.

With support from Menter Moch Cymru and Geraint Jones of Pwllheli vets, Milfeddygon Deufor, Gwenno has successfully implemented a herd health plan and is reaping the benefits.

A vaccination programme has eradicated previous problems with diseases such as porcine parvovirus (PPV), mycoplasma pneumonia, and PCV. This intervention has led to a quicker finishing time, and as a result, made valuable savings.

Gwenno said: “I would definitely encourage people to take up the herd health plan through Menter Moch Cymru. Through blood testing and vaccinating the pigs, I now have fewer problems with my herd.

“Before, I had issues with small-sized litters and unsuccessful AI attempts which were down to PPV. Like-wise, my underperforming weaning litters were tested, and I now have a vaccine programme for PCV disease. While a cough problem – that lead to slower growth – has been solved by the mycoplasma pneumonia vaccine.”

She credits the vaccination programme for her pigs going off farm 10-14 days earlier than before and saving her approximately £7 per head. It is a huge saving when balancing small pig margins and high feed costs.

Gwenno said: “Vaccinations only work out at a few pounds per head, and in the long run, the benefits are excellent for the business. Also, being able to work closely with the vet is very helpful as I can ask questions and get the support I need for my herd’s health.”