DENMARK - The Danish pig industry has set ambitious targets to reduce the number of dead piglets in each litter to increase production.
By 2020, an initiative by the Danish Veterinary Association and the Danish pig producer members of the SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre is aiming to see at least half a million more piglets survive each year.
The initiative launched at the Danish pig industry conference in Herning on Tuesday (20 October) will see veterinarians, advisers and pig producers will redouble their efforts to increase the survival rate of piglets on pig farms across Denmark from the start of 2016.
In 2014, 78 per cent of piglets were still alive at weaning.
The new agreement between veterinarians and the industry raises the target to more than 80 per cent.
When a sow gives birth to her piglets, it is only natural that some are stillborn. The subsequent period – from birth to weaning – is also a vulnerable period in a piglet’s life.
"In the spring of 2014, the industry entered into an agreement with the then Food Minister and other stakeholders to increase the piglet survival rate," said Claus Fertin, Director of SEGES Pig Research Centre.
“The new co-operation with veterinarians represents a continuation of work that is already underway.
“If anyone has an interest in ensuring improved survival, then it's the pig producers themselves. There are clear benefits.”
He added that the aim of the initiative is to increase the survival rate of piglets by half a per cent a year.
The Danish Veterinary Association and SEGES Pig Research Centre estimate that, as a result of the new agreement, at least 500,000 extra pigs will survive each year, thus generating significantly increased earnings for the industry.
"There’s no doubt that the vast majority of pig producers are doing what they can to increase survival rates. But there’s still a need for concerted action, which is what this project is all about,” Mr Fertin added.
The project starts with a partnership between the vet and the pig producer and will form part of the regular health advisory visit, with analysis, the setting of objectives and the drawing up of a plan.
The specific initiatives that are expected to have a positive effect include improved supervision of the sow during farrowing, better monitoring of the timing and cause of all piglet deaths, more advice from the vet on good obstetric practice and ensuring that there is appropriate management of the sow and the piglets’ environment. In addition, more focus will be trained on follow-up so that problem areas can continually be addressed.
"Exciting advances are already being made through the PattegriseLIV (Piglet Life) campaign to increase piglet survival, but not all farms are involved in this,” said the Chairman of the Danish Veterinary Association, Kristian Viekilde.
“In order to get the whole industry on board and to achieve our 2020 targets, we need a further initiative.
“Together, we will align high-productivity agriculture to ‘world class’ performance at ensuring survival of our piglets.
“This requires new methods, a committed effort and motivation to succeed. It’s my impression that we’re ready to deliver in all areas."
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