ANALYSIS - After 12 years of waiting and ready or not, the partial sow stall ban has come into force across the EU. A new study has revealed that improved welfare can boost the bottom line - at least, by addressing tail biting in fattening pigs. There are highlights of the annual Oxford Farming Conference. The latest 'Hogs and Pigs' report from the the US shows little change in pig numbers from 12 months previously; the number of pigs reared per litter has reached a new record, however.
Let us hope 2013 is a better year for pig production in those countries where farmers are struggling to achieve higher prices for their animals to cover the increase in feed costs.
Two of the new articles on the web site this week address ways to reduce feed costs, either by reducing the nutrient density of the diet or by using more unconventional feed ingredients, such as bakery waste.
In the EU on 1st January, the sow stall ban came into effect. Eleven of the 27 member states not yet able to comply with the regulation, according to a welfare campaigning organisation. Eurogroup for Animals says that the European Commission has already announced it will launch infraction procedures against non-compliant Member States and that these are "very likely" to be included in the January infringements package to be published on 24 January 2013.
Higher welfare standards are usually associated with increased production costs. However, in an unusual example of research showing improved welfare can boost the bottom line, researchers in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland have reported that reducing tail-biting can reduce both carcass and financial losses. Speaking at the Teagasc Pig Farmers' Conference last year, Dr Laura Boyle of Moorepark said that the ability to reduce many of the financial losses associated with condemnations resulting from tail-biting is within the control of the producer.
ThePigSite's Editor-in-Chief, Chris Harris, attended the annual Oxford Farming Conference last week and reported on some of its highlights, which included a new assessment of the contribution that agriculture makes to society in general, the allocation of funds from the EU Common Agricultural Policy and UK government support for genetically modified organisms in agriculture. There was also a call for better implementation of EU rules rather than ever more regulation.
Last but not least, the latest quarterly 'Hogs and Pigs' report has been published by USDA.
The total inventory of all hogs and pigs in the US on 1 December 2012 was down slightly from the previous year, while the breeding herd was slightly larger. The September-November 2012 pig crop was up slightly from the same period of 2011. The average number of pigs reared per litter reached a record high of 10.15.
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