The Danish pig industry, whose export-based strategies affect other countries, not least the UK, will remain “influential” this year despite facing many challenges, according to an analysis carried out by BPEX.
While listing a host of issues, from the worrying closeness of PEDv and African swine fever (ASF) to the Danish industry’s battle to retain more weaners for domestic finishing, BPEX concludes that the country’s history of resilience and adaptability, is reason enough to expect Denmark’s pig producers to also deal positively with their current challenges.
“Although the present difficulties suggest expansion is unlikely, the Danish herd probably won’t contract dramatically either,” said BPEX. “This should mean the upward trend in piglet numbers continues, although whether this will translate into more domestic production or whether German and Polish slaughterhouses will benefit most is uncertain. Either way, Denmark will remain influential.”
While price, disease, environmental and animal welfare pressures are all on the Danish industry’s horizon this year, the country’s high level pig sector productivity keeps it at the top of the EU performance league. Having achieved a weaning figure of 30 pigs per sow in 2013 for the first time, while recording one of the EU’s lowest average cost of production, the country has secured a steady increase in output in recent years.
Ironically, the major benefits of this increase have largely been picked up by finishers in Germany, who continue to take a similarly increased number of imported weaners from Danish farms. This is certainly one of the big commercial issues of 2015, although associated disease risks are likely to present a more visible challenge.
“As well as the long-standing issues that the weaner trade generates, it now poses a threat in the form of disease risk,” said BPEX. “Poland is one of the four EU countries which have confirmed cases of ASF and returning lorries could bring the disease back with them. To minimise this risk, Denmark has invested in state of the art lorry washing facilities at border crossings. With Russia not the only export market which would restrict shipments if ASF hit Denmark, the industry knows it can’t take any chances with biosecurity.”
With MRSA, antibiotics, an increased commitment to free farrowing and the phasing out of castration, all also on the industry’s agenda this year, BPEX added that some very “innovative solutions” will be required in 2015 if the Danish industry is to remain competitive.