Is meat and bonemeal back on the agenda?

by 5m Editor
19 January 2004, at 12:00am

UK - The European Council is expected, this year, to reconsider its meat and bonemeal ban. The council will not sanction the feeding of animal proteins to cattle but it may decide the practice can quite safely be resumed for monogastric animals, such as pigs.

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This will pose an interesting dilemma for the British pig industry. Should it continue to ban meat and bonemeal regardless of what the rest of Europe is doing? The justification for adopting this position would be that the ban contributes to the special quality of British pork and thus to its premium value on supermarket shelves.

Although the outcome of such a debate can probably be taken as read, it is a decision that could cause considerable soul-searching, bearing in mind the number of producers who are convinced the withdrawal of meat and bonemeal from diets has had a detrimental effect on herd health and may even be a factor in PMWS.

Results from a recent survey on the continent support the anecdotal view that removing animal proteins from pig diets has reduced herd health.

The aim of the survey - which was carried out in ten European countries, and had the commercial intent of increasing understanding of the consequences of the ban on the use of animal proteins and in particular blood plasma - found around 70 percent of animal feed companies experienced differences in growth performance, health performance and the use of antibiotics.

More than 80 percent of the companies observed a significant lower growth performance due to lack of plasma in post-weaning diets. More than 70 percent noted a significant lower health status.

According to more than 60 percent of respondents, lack of plasma influenced the use of antibiotics (plasma is claimed to provide benefits in antibiotic-free diets.) Around 25 percent of the companies said they had not been able to compose diets with adequate quality after the ban.

If Europe decides to allow animal proteins in pig feeds, it is expected that around 60 percent of the companies surveyed will reintroduce plasma, around five percent of them at an increased level.

Until the European ban, spray-dried plasma and serum proteins were accepted additives in continental diets and supplements, especially for young pigs, with research indicating that it could contribute to improved growth rate and feed efficiency.

According to some sources in early-weaned pigs these proteins reduce mortality and morbidity. The response is said to be related to the immunoglobulin proteins present in plasma. The "plasma effect" is said to be greater in a stressful environment .

(The survey was carried out on behalf of APC Europe. HAS KennisTransfer surveyed 38 ex-users of plasma in ten European countries.)

Source: National Pig Association - 19th January 2004

5m Editor