James Foran Pig Farm of Carrick-on-Suir, Co Waterford has developed a reputation which is second to none in Ireland’s pig industry. We spoke to Jim Foran junior about the family-run enterprise…
The Irish pig market remains buoyant with good demand from all processors on the back of improving pork markets, especially the export market to Asia.
At the time of writing, the previous week’s kill of 66,000 continues the recent trend of reduced pig numbers available and this is causing all procurement managers and agents to be very competitive to fill their kill numbers every week.
The most recent pig price update from the IFA revealed that there were more increases passed on to suppliers from most factories, with prices of €1.79c/kg up to €1.85c/kg buying most pigs.
Spot prices of €1.85c/kg and higher were reported for some pigs and it is clear this is where the Irish price is heading. The European market remains positive with the German pig market leading the price.
This is welcome news for pig farmers such as Jim Foran who has been forced to endure more than their fair share of hardship when it comes to price in recent years.
“Business was very bad in 2018 as well as the first quarter of 2019 but we have seen some green shoots since and, hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the next few years,” he said in conversation with Irish Tractor & Agri magazine. “You would have to say that the future outlook for the industry is positive at this point in time,” he added.
James Foran Pig Farm is a family run business in its second generation and a proud producer of premium quality products. Jimmy and Lena Foran established their commercial pig farm in the mid 70’s and son Jim junior has been working alongside them full-time for the past 15 years. The herd now stands at c. 1100 Danbred sows with 48 farrowing’s per week.
The Foran family prides itself on always maintaining high standards and best practice on their farm with the over-arching aim of improving the productivity, health and welfare of their herd to increase farm efficiency.
Pig production in Ireland ranks third in importance behind beef and milk production accounting for 8% of Gross Agricultural Output.
Employment in the pig sector accounts for at least 1,300 labour units on farms, with the total number employed in associated sectors such as pig meat processing, feed manufacture, haulage and services being estimated at 8,300.
There is an estimated 290 commercial sow herds in Ireland and the June 2016 CSO Livestock Survey reported that there are 1.6 million pigs in Ireland, including 149,900 breeding sows.
In 2016 Ireland exported an estimated 235,000 tonnes of pigment, worth approximately €615 million. The UK was the main Irish pig meat market receiving 56% of our total pigmeat exports, 16% was exported to Continental EU and the remaining 28% went to international markets.
“The majority of pigs are finished on site here in Carrick-on-Suir with the addition of 2,000 pigs which are finished in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. We did a full depop/repop in 2016 to improve health, productivity and feed efficiency. The replacement stock was imported directly from Denmark in conjunction with Elite Sires.
“We have our own Milling company, which was set up in the early 90s, to help reduce feed costs.
At weaning, pigs are introduced to wet feed via a Schauer Spotmix system. After transfer from 1st to 2nd stage weaners, pigs are fed via a standard liquid feed system until sale.”
James Foran Pig Farm currently employs seven on the farm plus office staff. In addition, they have two drivers on their payroll to operate their two trucks, a livestock trailer, grain trailers, slurry tankers and a liquid bulk tanker.
All transport is done using their own vehicles to help improve biosecurity.
The majority of slurry is delivered into customer farmers tanks with a 6000 gallon tanker.
“One of the biggest challenges I see at the minute is staff,” Jim outlined. “Recruiting and retaining quality staff is a serious issue.”
Another major threat to Ireland’s pig sector is African swine fever. Jim echoed the sentiments of IFA Pig Chair Tom Hogan who says that the ASF cannot be underestimated and called on the Department of Agriculture to heighten biosecurity at every point of entry into Ireland.
“The potential of African Swine Fever to spread to Europe and Ireland is a big concern for the industry.
“Normally I’d say the price of pigs is the biggest challenge but that’s not the case at the minute – and I hope that will continue to go one way and that’s up!” he concluded.
Jim Foran Pig Farm
Tel: 087 6448864
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 5, September/October 2019