Seasonal infertility: a cost... but also an opportunity

UK - Long term, reducing herd-size thresholds will not markedly increase the number of pigs covered by IPPC, reports Digby Scott.
calendar icon 21 February 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

National Pig Association

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

Can we reduce the annual shortage of pigmeat associated with seasonal infertility? Summer and autumn infertility is costing the British pig industry well over a million pounds a week.

A new research project hopes to find ways to cut the losses. Members of marketing group Meadow Quality will be invited to take part in a programme aimed at reducing weight loss in pigs during March to August. BPEX staff will collect best practice tips from successful producers and share them with the wider industry.

Meadow Quality will monitor the impact before, during and after the project. “We feel this is an important initiative for everyone connected with the pig industry,” said Colin Wooldridge, of Meadow Quality.

Research shows production losses from summer and autumn infertility are particularly heavy following years of above-average temperatures. For instance the year after 1995, the industry saw a 23.4 percent increase in pig shortages. And the effect of high temperatures in 2003 was even more devastating, with a 77.5 percent increase in shortages the following year.

This knock-on effect following warm years could mean significantly higher production losses if climate change causes greater weather extremes in the future.

But it could also signal a price bonus for British producers - because pig-keepers in southern Europe will face even greater weather-triggered shortfalls in production as the weather gets warmer over the next ten years.

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