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Weekly Overview: Strong Recovery in US Pig Population

30 March 2015

GLOBAL - The latest census in the US shows substantial increases in total pigs and the breeding herd as well as record litter sizes, pointing to a strong recovery in the sector in terms of output since the height of the PED challenge. New outbreaks continue to occur, however. A new report forecasts the continued rise in global use of antibiotics in farm livestock over the next 15 years, while a survey in the UK highlights consumers' widespread misconceptions over food safety risks from veterinary medications and vaccines.

At a little under 66 million head, there were seven per cent more pigs in the United States on 1 March 2015 than a year ago.

The latest quarterly Hogs and Pigs report shows the breeding herd at 5.98 million, two per cent higher than the year before while there were eight per cent more market hogs.

The pig crop – the number of animals produced during the December 2014 to February 2015 quarter – was up nine per cent from the previous year, and there were two per cent more farrowings and a new record was set for the number of piglets reared per litter.

A new study estimates that global use of antibiotics will be 67 per cent higher in 2030 than in 2010 as agriculture intensifies to meet the growing demand for animal protein.

The authors of the study, including Simon Levin of Princeton University, estimate that between 2010 and 2030, the global consumption of antimicrobials will have increased from 63,151 to 105,596 tons.

A consumer survey in the United Kingdom for the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) shows that more than 80 per cent of shoppers believe that it is possible for animal medicines and vaccinations to harm people by getting into food.

NOAH's chief executive said that these fears can be traced back to the 'horse meat scandal' two years ago and describes the results as "very worrying".

Turning to news of pig diseases, a USDA report says that the number of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) cases in South Korea is rising, despite government efforts to control the disease in pigs and cattle.

Although vaccination efforts and culling of affected animals seems to have proven effective in controlling mass spreading, it has not resulted in eradication.

Since the first outbreak of FMD in December 2014, there have been 151 confirmed cases and nearly 140,000 animals have been culled.

And finally, on porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED), 17 pig farm samples have been confirmed positive for the virus in the US in the latest report and there is one dual infection (PEDV and porcine deltacoronavirus). One new outbreak was confirmed in Ontario, Canada, in the last week.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden



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