BPEX blog

Friday, 26 August 2011

How pig health strategy can help bring in ££s

Improved pig health and welfare could easily be worth as much as £25 million a year to the British industry. An extra 50g weight gain per day as a result of improved health would return between £2 and £3.50 per pig – between £15 and £25m a year.

BPEX has just produced a new health and welfare strategy with support from across the industry and launched by Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens. 20:20 Pig Health and Welfare builds on the success of the first strategy launched at the end of 2003.

One of the key elements is the Pig Health Improvement Project (PHIP). The national Stage 1 is underway and in addition there will be pilot projects with groups of producers across the country. It aims to change completely the way endemic pig diseases are managed, mitigated and controlled across the country.

This will require a radical change in the mindset of all involved - from a rather singular, self-contained approach to a far more inclusive, co-ordinated and collaborative one. BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston said: “Improving the health and welfare of pigs affects our cost of production, our ability to compete in a highly competitive EU market, our impact on the environment, the safety of the food we produce, our responsibility to the animals in our care, our reputation as a producer of high welfare pork, bacon, ham and other pork products and ultimately our ability to produce a secure supply of food in an increasingly volatile world.

“Despite the progress we have already made we remain behind many of our immediate competitors on key measures of efficiency. Improving pig health is key to closing this competitiveness gap.”

Friday, 19 August 2011

New stockman training course for the south

The BPEX Stockman Development Programme will run in the south of England for the first time this year, following the success of the courses in the east and north. We have designed the programme to boost practical knowledge and develop an overall understanding of the complete production cycle, from farrowing through to finishing, so stockmen can contribute as fully as possible to the business.

The scheme, which runs over a 10-month period, consists of a series of workshops, delivered by BPEX staff and regional experts and also includes allied industry visits. Each workshop will be run in five locations to ensure local training for all staff but allied trade visits will be combined between the groups.

The cost to attend the whole course is £150 per person. However, ad hoc attendance at a specific workshop is available at a cost of £25 + VAT per session. Please note allied industry sessions are only available as part of the full course. Registration for Stockman Development South closes on 1 September 2011. For more information and to register, contact me using the details below or the comment button.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Disposing of fallen stock

BPEX-funded PhD student Ceri Gwyther has been very busy recently disseminating results from her studies at Bangor University. She is looking into ‘Bio-reduction: an alternative strategy for disposing of fallen stock in the UK livestock sector’.

Ceri went to the XVth International Congress on Animal Hygiene 2011 in Vienna to give a presentation on her work on the fate of pathogens in a simulated bioreduction system for livestock carcases.

A poster was also presented at the Plant and Microbiology Wales conference in Bangor which looked at the accelerants that speed up the initial stages of decomposition. These could be beneficial to the farmer by speeding up carcase degradation, freeing up space in the vessel for fresh carcase additions which could potentially save money.

For more information on this project and to see a copy of the presentation/poster please click here.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Shade, hydration and sun block for pigs

Prolonged exposure to sun and heat can result in stressed pigs and reduced performance. Just like when you go on a hot holiday, think shade, hydration and sun block.

Pigs subjected to high temperatures will have reduced growth rates (by up to 50g/day) and, in the breeding herd, farrowing rates could decline by as much as 25%.

Action for Productivity sheets 3 and 4 provide advice on keeping your pigs cool, whether they are inside or outside, including wallow management.

Action for Productivity sheet 39 provides more specific advice for heat stress in boars. Remember, boar fertility accounts for 50% of his progeny's genetics, but potentially 100% of output, as poor quality semen affects both conception and litter size.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

New health measures piloted on farm

New biosecurity measures will be put in place on pig units in three pilot projects just given the go ahead, as part of the national BPEX Pig Health Improvement Project (PHIP).

This marks the eagerly-awaited second stage of the programme for pig producers in Yorkshire and East Anglia, which were the first to get started on regional health improvement – gathering and mapping health information and forming a regional network of producers.

The three on-farm pilot groups – two in Yorkshire and one in East Anglia – will help establish the effectiveness of certain measures in improving pig health status in a sustainable way. BPEX has helped the producer groups access RDPE funding to support the practical steps they are taking.

One group is upgrading its loading ramps to improve biosecurity and, in the second group, one of the farms is doing a full depopulation. The third group, comprising more than 30 units, is carrying out a targeted PRRS vaccination.

To read more, click here. To sign up for the PHIP click here or contact Helen Clarke at BPEX on 07973 701369

Monday, 1 August 2011

Reducing phosphorus excretion

A project is underway to demonstrate the environmental and economic implications of reducing phosphorous (P) excretion in pigs.

The University of Newcastle is working with BQP, BOCM Pauls and BPEX on this two-year project which started in August 2010.

The aim is to establish whether dietary P can be reduced below current commercial norms without negative effects on pig health and reproductive performance and, at the same time, reduce diffuse pollution of P to the environment via manure and effluent.

So far five breeding farms have been selected to take part in the experiments; all of them are in a catchment sensitive farming area. Three dietary P levels will be tested for their effect on sows during the dry period and pregnancy.

Treatment A – Industry standard diet
Treatment B – BSAS standard diet
Treatment C – Low P diet where P level is reduced by 22 % in relation to BSAS Standard

A further two finishing farms have been selected for the experiments and will be looking at finishing pigs from 40 – 100kg. Results from these experiments will be reported on in the future.