2017 - August: The Skinner Family: 50 years partnering with PIC
For over half a century the Skinner family, farming at Lazyfold, Insch, in Aberdeenshire have been running their pig enterprise, partnering with PIC. It was back in 1962 when Dan Skinner and his wife May bought Lazyfold. Today the partnership of Dan & May with their son Danny, wife Alison and now their son Daniel aged 20, run the 440 sow herd and 420 acres of arable land with 3 members of staff. It is only fitting that we should look back and share some thoughts from both Dan who started the business and son Danny.
The photo shows three generations Skinner Family (from left to right): Danny with his wife Alison, Dan and Daniel
Dan says: "My first association with PIC began in August 1967 when we bought 12 Camborough gilts @ £33/hd. delivered. They were part of a lot of 60 gilts delivered to five other members of the Dunscroft weaner group.
Positive feedback from J C Innes of Dunscroft about the progeny of these gilts and strong demand for supply of 800 weaners a week initiated consultations with PIC's Director at that time, Ben Boughton, who at the time was on a duck shooting holiday at Loch of Strachbeg. It was agreed that we should become PIC Multipliers producing Camborough breeding stock. In May 1968 the first 14 Landrace GP gilts and a Large White boar, at the total cost of £937 were delivered, followed by a further lot of GPs in November 1968.
Shortly afterwards we had a visit from Dr Tom Alexander who urged a rapid expansion plan which we did and by 1971 we had 100 GPs supplying both Dunscroft and Bibbys in Lancashire.
Dr Tom was one of the most impressive men that I’ve ever met. Even with all his degrees, he was very down to earth and could spot anything untoward immediately."
Danny continues: "Dad continued to increase sow numbers at various times as I was growing up and going to school. He continued to supply breeding stock for PIC until 1977 when a pneumonia outbreak resulted in a destock/repop. We then continued to multiply until the late 80’s when the decision was taken to move towards having a commercial herd. It was not a decision taken lightly, but some 10 years later and by 1995 we had 280 sows producing 20 pigs/sow/year. Ten years later in 2005 we were up to 25 pigs/sow/year, with 380 sows.
With foot-and-mouth hitting the country in 2001, herd health and bio security became highly important. So, with the advice of Tim Bramley, we started a Closed Herd Rotational Breeding Programme, which is the best thing I think we have ever done. In the past we had tried a small GP-herd within the herd but found we did not have enough choice when selecting gilts. With the Rotational Breeding Programme we have 15 sows each week to pick the best 2 breeding sows from to use damline semen, so giving us a pool of gilts to pick the best ones to breed from. To date in 2017 we are producing 30.5 pigs/sow/year."
Danny concludes with "Over the 50 years of continuously dealing with PIC we have also experimented with other breeding stock, but have always come back to PIC, for a good all round product which has never let us down."
Pictured on the right: 1989 - Dan and son Danny with their stock man Robbie Thomson (center).
Pictured below: These three pigs raised at Lazyfold and sired by the PIC L63 boar won the Carcase Competitiion at the Royal Northern Agricultural Society Pig Event 1989.