– one in-pig gilt [young female pig], average litter size 8 – 10, 2.1 litters per year.
– calculate 8 potential sales of a mixture of pedigree breeding stock, weaners and ultimately boxes of pork.
– prospects good, gross income conservatively projected: 3 pedigree registered gilts @£95, 2 weaners @£ 60, and 3 fat pigs cut and butchered @£300 = @£1305 x 2.01 = £2623.05
– offer shares in The Piggy Bank PLC to buy more pigs
– deposits received and purchases made.
– the gilt farrows prematurely has 5 piglets, 3 alive, 2 dead
– spend half a day tending to their needs and they begin to look potentially viable but with a long way to go
– the gilt lays on the best one of the three
– two weaker piglets are left, both boars with no future breeding potential and doubts that they will survive long enough to turn into pork.
– potential income possibly zero
Annual expenses per breeding pig [feed – home grown ration £179, straw £25, vet £30, labour £1850, use of boar £40, capital expenditure (25%) £120, Misc. incl. Heat, light, power, registration, fuel, hygiene, advertising and marketing etc £273.
The viability of The Piggy Bank PLC is severely threatened and Government support is called in. There is nothing to offer the share holders except a handful of dead piglets and the vague notion that next time will be better.
This example above may read harshly and may be upsetting to some readers but it is the stark reality of livestock farming, and is an agricultural illustration of the recent turmoil on the world’s banks.
It is also the actuality of living and tangible assets, and farming in an environmentally friendly and welfare conscious way. Here at Prosperous Farm economies of scale, combined with the other livestock enterprises help to cut many of of the costs and the figures given above are just an example to show exactly how tight the margins are.
However, parody aside: this life and death situation, which many livestock farmers deal with a on a regular basis, is also a type of evolution – ensuring up to a point – survival of the fittest animals and ensures that the breeding stock that does survive is both hardy and viable. And this in turn ensures that only the fittest farm businesses survive too, those with the best stockmanship skills combined with good financial management. However these events must also be averaged over many years as no year or season is ever the same and every farm has good years and indifferent ones too.