Tweet timeline – International Conference on Pig Welfare

This collection of Pig World tweets from the International Conference on Pig Welfare in Copenhagen (April 28/29) gives a taste of the proceedings.

There’s much more on the conference (in English) on the Danish Agriculture Ministry’s website:

DAY ONE
In Copenhagen for International Conference on Pig Welfare organised by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Peter Stevenson advocates immune castration at International Conference on Pig Welfare.
David Fraser of Canada’s University of British Columbia days animal production is not yet a profession in the true sense . . .
. . . It must move to become so to help maintain public trust in animal producers.
Prof Fraser: “Very different welfare outcomes can occur in the same kind of physical environment. Relies on standard of care.”
Prof Fraser: variable performance – driven by welfare – prevents animal production being from being considered a profession.
Prof Sandra Edwards tackling pain in pig production. No doubts there is pain from castration, tail docking and stomach ulcers.
Prof Edwards: these will need ethical justification; backed up by scientific assessment of pain and use of appropriate analgesia.
Prof Edwards: “Immuno castration remains ethical issue of animal integrity, even if consumer/producer concerns can be overcome.”
Prof Edwards: “No farm has zero risk of tail biting; challenge is to manage risk to keep it at manageable level.”
Prof Edwards: better tools required to find if stomach ulcers are an issue. Abattoir findings not reliable for live population.
Lene Juul Pedersen of Aarhus University is questioning if Denmark’s highly prolific sows are suited to free farrowing systems.
Organic production represented 110,000 pigs in 2014. About 0.5% of production. 60% was exported. 2% market share in Danish shops.
CIWF’s Peter Stevenson tells Pig World use of immuno castration in the UK would be a backwards step.
Prof Jan Tind Sorensen of Aarhus University says piglet mortality is a major problem in organic production at 33%. 9% stillborn.
Prof Sorensen: antibiotic use lower in organic herds; no increase in mortality of organic sows/finishers.
Prof Anders Ringgard Kristensen is promoting the use of sensors for automatic detection of behavioural patterns in pigs.
Prof Kristensen: changes in data patterns from sensors provide early warning to health or welfare issues.
Prof Kristensen: movement monitors on sows can detect behaviour changes indicating the onset of farrowing or other welfare issue.
Only 1.8% of Danish pigs surgically castrated; workshop is exploring alternatives before 2018 when anaesthesia must be used.
Zoetis is launching a vaccine on the Spanish market to delay oestrus and prevent gilts getting impregnated by wild boar.
Zoetis’ Neil’s Wuyts: Improvac is a vaccine, not a hormone, antibiotic or GMO. Reduces carbon footprint by 3.7% vs castrate boar.
Castration workshop: “trained insects” could theoretically be used to detect boat taint!
Castration workshop: Aarhus Uinversity research says China and Japan remain sceptical about immunocastration. Holland not keen!
Castration workshop: research suggests UK and Australia think boar taint issue is grossly exaggerated. US is ignoring the problem.
Castration workshop: Concern that consumers in Germany, Netherlands and Japan will never accept immunocastration.
Castration workshop: no one wants to raise the issue of immunocastration with the Chinese, so their attitude is unknown!
ACMC, which appointed administrators yesterday, will continue to trade while a buyer is sought for the business.
Castration workshop: Suggestions new markets required for meat from entire males as the carcases are different from castrates!
Final Copenhagen session with four EU agriculture ministers is about to begin.
Dutch agriculture minister says her eventual aim is a complete ban on tail docking.
Germany’s ag minister says it’s wrong not to recognise the steps pig producers have already taken in Europe to improve welfare.
German minister says concentrate on needs of animals, not humans’ welfare concerns. Must be a scientific approach.
German minister says changes must come in a reasonable timeframe, but must not be at cost of the profitability of the pig sector.
German minister: Europe is in vanguard of animal welfare. Need to work to maintain that position.
Last up is Sweden’s Sven-Erik Bucht.
Swedish minister: Europe’s focus must be on quality, and that means high welfare.
Swedish minister: Fight against antimicrobial resistance is Swedish government’s number one priority.
Agriculture Ministers from three of Europe’s largest pig producers – Denmark, The Netherlands and Germany.
German minister: there are alternatives to castration like Improvac; have to explain to retailers and consumers meat quality is the same.
German minister: “We must implement our standards in trade agreements.”
Dan Jorgensen: “If we try to compete on price our industry is going to die.”
German minister: “from 2020 should the CAP help support producers that produce animals in a welfare friendly
way.”
Dan Jorgensen: “We need to keep up pressure on the European Commission because only it can propose new legislation within the EU”

DAY TWO
Danish International Pig Welfare Conference kicking off for the second and final day.
US researcher Jeremy Merchant-Forde to discuss animal welfare indicators. Says more work needed to measure animals’ mental state.
Jeremy Marchant-Forde: low awareness of farming practices among US consumers. only 0.7% of population has link to agriculture.
Jeremy Marchant-Forde: Food scares including BSE in Europe led to development of animal welfare/assurance schemes.
Jeremy Marchant-Forde: Schemes try to build trust; consumer faced with different labels and different levels of trust/knowledge.
Jeremy Marchant-Forde: US challenge is representative measurement of welfare on large units. 145 farms = 60% of production.
Jeremy Marchant-Forde: Tear staining around pig eyes appear to have a high correlation with welfare.
Prof Hans Houe of the University of Copenhagen is now addressing issue of “register data” to assess animal welfare.
Prof Hans Houe: Concept is that data collected for other (statutory) purposes may provide some indication of animal welfare.
Prof Hans Houe: Drawback is that data collection is beyond control of researcher so may not meet requirements precisely.
Prof Hans Houe: However, when used in conjunction with primary data, register data may provide some added value.
Prof Hans Houe: Danish register data includes pig databases for herds, movements, carcase inspection, med use and welfare infringements.
Dr Bjorn Forkman of the University of Copenhagen now discussing creation of a national animal welfare index.
The aim of Dr Forkman’s project is to go beyond farm level and develop national welfare indices to monitor changes over time.
Dr Forkman: Combine register data and on-farm data to create index to make it possible to assess results of different activities.
Dr Forkman’s project will help validate changes introduced by legislation or welfare schemes.
Dr Forkman: On-farm work taking place now, index development will be carried out in 2016 and system in use from 2017.
Back after coffee break with Prof Athanasios Krystallis of Aarhus University talking about consumer views on animal welfare.
Prof Krystallis: Consumers more aware in past 10 years of animal welfare issues. Growing evidence of demand for ethical good.
Prof Krystallis: between 2003-2013, more than 29,000 products launched in Europe with ethical claims.
Prof Krystallis: Drive for ethical labels driven by supermarkets as they seek to sell animal welfare friendly products.
Prof Krystallis: little evidence that different attitudes towards livestock production affect meat consumption.
Prof Krystallis: consumers will tend to prefer meat labelled ethically produced in blind taste tests, even if it’s lower quality.
Prof Krystallis: Danish research suggests consumers will pay more for meats products with low fat level, low Salmonella risk.
Jeremy Cooper of Freedom Food takes to the stage to discuss the UK scheme.
Jeremy Cooper: Freedom Food is whole-life scheme ensuring farm animals meet RSPCA welfare standards from field to plate.
Jeremy Cooper: Freedom Food reviewed brand to target 24% of market that represents best route for growth – renamed RSPCA Assured.
Jeremy Cooper: TV advertising for RSPCA from September 2015. Presence at festivals in summer 2015.
Jeremy Cooper: There’s growing interest in RSPCA Assured by Aldi and Lidl in UK market.
Jeremy Cooper: five year plan in place to grow RSPCA Assured, including overseas development.
RSPCA’s Kate Parkes now discussing how body has developed its standards. Pigs (and poultry) were first when started 20 years ago.
Kate’s Parkes: Standards exceed legislation, but are realistic and achievable on farm.
Kate Parkes: Want to eliminate “mutilations”, teeth clipping, tail docking and nose ringing. Surgical castration already banned.
Final speaker is Prof Paul Hemsworth of Melbourne University who’s discussing the effect of stockman training on animal welfare.
Prof Hemsworth’s premise is that where interactions between the stockman and stock is poor, productivity and welfare will suffer.
Prof Hemsworth: Stockman attitudes are learned, so can be targeted and changed to help improve animal welfare and productivity.
Prof Hemsworth: questionnaires and observation of stock people can help identify beliefs and behaviors that need to be addressed.
Prof Hemsworth: Concept has been commercialised as the ProHand (professional handling of pigs) training programme in Australia.
Prof Hemsworth: Conclusion is that technical and behavioural training are both required to optimise stockmanship.
Closing debate at International Pig Welfare Conference now underway.
IPWC debate: Peter Stevenson if CIWF says more work required by governments to enforce existing legislation on, for example, tail docking.
IPWC debate: Dan Jorgensen says it’s not a case of producers improving welfare or making money – must have both.
Dan Jorgensen says Europe-wide welfare improvement is impossible without “frontrunners” demonstrating change is possible.
IPWC debate: It’s reported that Aldi Sud in Germany has announced it will only sell pork from non-castrated pigs.
IPWC debate: Comments that retailers are missing from the conference. Sainsbury’s is here observing for UK market.
IPWC debate: CIWF calling for mandatory labelling of production type (intensive/extensive etc) of meat in similar way to eggs.
IPWC debate: Sweden is promoting a pig production system to retailers with no antibiotics, no crates and no mutilations.
IPWC debate: CIWF says zero or minimum VAT rate on ethically produced food would increase consumer demand overnight.
IPWC debate: Danish government transforming canteens to organic; educating the people working in the kitchens, no extra food cost.
Danish agriculture minister Dan Jorgensen says it’s important politicians are there to push farmers further than they want to go
Dan Jorgensen has completed his closing remarks and the conference is over.

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The conference was arranged by Danish agriculture minister Dan Jørgensen

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