The Year Round: Facing elements with success

Despite the most severe spell so early that we can remember on this Northallerton farm the livestock buildings at White Smocks are proving effective.

The water system for all young pigs has been frozen every night, but the animals sleep a good deal of the time.

After three or four hours without water they push around the drinkers with their nozzles and this combination of animal warmth and effort gets the flow going again.

The road to White Smocks is a gradual gradient and although nowhere very steep the regular snow showers have made the yard very icy.

All the delivery drivers are very experienced and make every effort to negotiate our route by using salt and tractor power at the ready.

All has gone well. A 27 tonne-vehicle may have a 34-tonne gross weight when loaded. Our one son tried life at university but has decided to return home on a full-time basis.

There are now two of us full-time with pigs, and two full-time poultry workers packing eggs.

The 220 breeding sows are in regular production, using AI. We do the inseminations ourselves and the system works well.

Providing semen is a very competitive business these days thought we have dealt with the same company for five years.

Financial results on the poultry depend on the numbers of chicks hatched alive.

I have been invited to visit the hatchery, but have not yet done so.

The number of cockerels has been reduced to seven per hundred females and temperatures are kept steady for the birds.

The egg store is 18 degrees centigrade and the 30,000 layers have ten weeks in which to complete their cycle. The first eggs were laid in June.

Christmas and New Year greetings to our many readers who prefer to know what is actually happening on the farms rather than hearing from politicians and advisers.