In the latest Veterinary View in the September issue of Pig World, Duncan Berkshire, one of the lead vets within the five-vet pig team at Bishopton Veterinary Group, based in Yorkshire, delivers some important messages for pig farms
So harvest has pretty much been and gone for most of the country – grain yields have been variable, but at least the straw crop appears to have been better than predicted – one possible relief in what looks to be a challenging period ahead of us all within the pig sector…
What with the unmentionable ‘B’-word coming up early next year and the challenges that will result from what appears to be an underprepared Government, we appear to have UK challenges wanting to surface. If it is not to do with animal rights incursions onto farms, a regular occurrence at the moment, it lately appears to be Defra and APHA looking to test what we do on a day to day basis.
These approaches are often with a blinkered and short-term attitude to incredibly important areas of the work carried out with our pigs, with huge implications on pig welfare and which are taken very seriously already. There are several sections to keep an eye out for over the coming months, things that NPA and PVS are working hard to make sure that practical and pragmatic solutions are achieved for on-farm euthanasia, environmental enrichment provision, environmental standards for the pigs in our care, and the ongoing discussions around tail docking.
The aim is to get a short and long term plan of action for the industry to head along over the coming years that is acceptable to all – watch this space!
If that were not enough, outside of our internal UK issues we have lately heard of a number of cases of African swine fever (ASF) that have popped up in China, home to one of the biggest populations of pigs in the world. Control in Eastern Europe has already proven to be difficult in areas where there are significant numbers of commercial herds along with backyard pigs and feral boar – how ASF will be controlled in a country like China with huge numbers of uncontrolled pig holdings of generally small size and family ownership escapes me. We can only watch from the side-lines as the picture unfolds, although this could have potentially devastating consequences for the Chinese pork supply chains.
Do we look therefore on this issue in China as a positive amongst the gloomy outlook within the internal UK sector currently? If there will be increased demand for quality pork products from an ASF-free country with a proven track record then surely the UK has an opportunity that is potentially sitting there as an open goal? Well that will all depend on us keeping ASF away from our shores, making the current campaign for keeping the virus out of our own UK pig herd very pertinent and exceedingly important – perhaps now is the time to remind your staff, contractors and visitors that pork products have no place on your farm.
It’s always good to check, as I found a couple of weeks back when I happened across a stockman’s lunch bag open in the lunch room – yep the pork ban includes ‘chicken and bacon’ sandwiches!…