Let’s get pig farming done

Annie Davis has worked at the George Veterinary Group for 20 years. She is one of a team of seven pig vets, based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire

I use a pencil for my diary. This is a practice I adopted several years ago following a degree of frustration at the number of crossings out and changes, with the inevitable confusion when I couldn’t tell what I was supposed to be doing, or where I was supposed to be doing it.

Going back to using a pencil was a mildly liberating experience. In this job, visits that have been ‘in the diary’ for many weeks can change, as livestock and disease are not respectful of man-made arrangements.

Being relatively flexible when considering time and workload is a skill that I have had to work at, learning to abandon imposing false deadlines on things and concentrating instead on getting the critical things done.

This year has been one of false deadlines in so many areas. Brexit, with all its satellite uncertainties and outcomes, has been a moveable feast and, even though we have a new Parliament elected under the slogan of ‘Get Brexit Done’, I am not entirely sure I’ll be inking any dates in the new diary.

Of greater concern (in terms of my personal interest levels), the consultation around both the writing and the implementation of the new Welfare Codes has been a protracted process. While the end is in sight now that Parliament is up and running, the feeling of being on hold has yet to fully dissipate.

The ongoing threat posed by African swine fever has spiked at various points in the year, not least in recent weeks since it has been found close to the German border in Poland.

Its inexorable spread across Europe has left my German colleagues distinctly uneasy and I am thankful that we are not in their position as the New Year starts. At the start of 2019, we were expecting increased returns, as the situation in China promoted excellent prices in Europe.

We have not seen the same robust increases and a hiatus in investment may have ensued – there has not been the appetite to invest or upgrade without the support of decent prices.

Yet through this year of suspension and suspense, the world has kept turning, piglets continue
to be born, reared and sold, with all the challenges that entails.

I hope, after the fuss of this year has passed, that some of the uncertainties of the last 12 months will be adequately addressed in the year to come.

Regardless, I remain confident that those in the pig industry will continue to ‘get pig farming done’, despite it all. I will not be abandoning my pencil, though…

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