Pig farmer Tom Sherman from Mallow, Cork keeps his sows in a fully integrated unit. While food and energy are his highest costs, he can’t do “much more” to keep his ship tighter.
Feed is our biggest expense and always has been. It accounts for 75 percent of our input costs.
“However, energy now costs more than labor and our electricity bill is around 5,500 euros a month.”
Pig farming, says Tom, is always a high-input system.
“We have electric heating pads in the farrowing pens, and the weaners, finishers and fat pigs are all in fan-controlled pens to keep them cool and the air fresh,” he says.
“These fans run all year round and are extremely important from an animal welfare and hygiene point of view.
“Light is also very important on a pig farm and all our buildings are fitted with timers so that the lights come on automatically in the morning.
“You need at least 300 lux of light for 18 hours a day to raise pigs.”
In recent years, Tom has replaced all light bulbs with LEDs to reduce his electricity bills. He says that not only are they easier and cheaper to run, but they don’t generate heat, so they reduce the risk of fire in busy sheds.
Tom also grinds his own feed on the farm and operates a ‘wet feed’ system where all pig feed is mixed with water and pumped into the stalls up to 17 times a day.
“When feeding pigs, there are very high energy costs. We make all of our feed locally, and grinding it at home is a huge expense,” he says.
“We set up the feed-in at night at off-peak times to save electricity. We start grinding at 11:30 p.m. and do it three to four times a week. The system is about 90 percent automated.
“This isn’t about work, it’s about energy costs.”
For the past five years, it has cost Tom 4 cents to produce every kilogram of pork; this year, however, it costs him 9c/kg.
“That’s an increase of over 100%. Pig farms are run very efficiently; We grind at night and sometimes feed very early in the morning off peak so there isn’t much else we can do.
“We already have to run things as efficiently as possible because the margins in this business are so small.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/rural-life/how-this-cork-pig-farmer-is-trying-to-cut-his-5500-a-month-electricity-bill-42027149.html How this Cork pig farmer is trying to cut his €5,500 monthly electricity bill