Data collected from Defra, AHDB and Agrovision has been used by researchers from the universities of Liverpool and Bern (Switzerland) to investigate the impact of disease on pig producers.
The project compared a theoretically perfect farm without any losses against an ‘industry average’ UK farm. The difference between the two was £858m per year across the whole UK pig herd. This figure is more than twice that estimated by the industry. This demonstrates the importance of animal health in production outcomes and, therefore, the environment. It is also vital to recognise that improved animal health and welfare underpins the reputation of the industry.
Disease affects the environment through reduced efficiency and it is one of the most significant contributors to the environmental impact of livestock farming.
Dr Miranda Bowden-Doyle, animal health and welfare scientist at AHDB, said: “Understanding where individual farms can have the greatest impact on moving towards a disease-free utopia is the next step. The gap between average and utopia is large, and closing it is unachievable.
“However, small gains in litter size, pre-weaning and post-weaning survival, food conversion efficiency, days to slaughter, and mortality would pay big dividends in farm profitability and the impact on the environment.”