“Within Europe performance results are becoming more and more important, and, whereas, breeders used to look at general conformation alone, they now also look at performance records,” Mr Chris Cullen, general manager of NILEX Ltd, said when he spoke at the annual dinner of the Northern Ireland Large White Breeders Club during this week in 1978.
Mr Cullen said that when the cost of production was considered it was not surprising that performance results got so much attention.
He said: “With present day costings an improvement of .01 in food conversion rate would be equal to a value of about 65 or 66p per bacon pig, and also a good improvement in growth rate should be a substantial saving in the amount of food consumed could mean the difference between profit and loss for a pig breeder.”
Mr Cullen continued: “Of course a lot of food conversion rate improvement can be accounted for by feed if you have a pig genetically capable of improvement it may well be a useful exercise to raise protein levels etc, which will naturally raise the price of feed but reduce consumption by improving performance. But that is another subject again which could be discussed at great length.”
Turning his attention to the issue of conformation, Mr Cullen remarked: “Perhaps with all the ways available of improving performance the standard to be aimed at should be a food conversion of 2:0:1 and a growth rate of 2.0lbs/day plus, but we must not ignore conformation in improvement programmes.”
He added: “It would be very easy to do this, but do so at your peril, for, if you concentrate on pigs growing faster and leaner as most experts advocate, there is always the tremendous risk of the animals not being able to lay down enough solid bone and thus suffering from leg and back weakness. Therefore, I would suppose the main must be to improve conformation and performance at one and the same time.”
A large turnout of breeders and guests attended the dinner and there was “the usual happy atmosphere” that the club was noted for. Under the guidance of the club chairman Mr Ernie Moses, “it was indeed a very efficiently run and enjoyable event”.