Culling of Pigs Expected to Happen on Schedule

PHILIPPINES - The National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) expect to finish the depopulation of some 6,000 pigs from a farm in Pandi, Bulacan on Wednesday.
calendar icon 3 March 2009
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BAI Director, Davinio Catbagan Jr., said that on Sunday, they had killed and buried 472 Ebola Reston virus pig carriers on Sunday.

Mr Catbagan said that they expect to shift to a higher gear today, with their killing, burning and burying to be done in the morning and afternoon, according to The Manila Times.

Mr Catbagan said that they hope to be able to achieve more than the target 500 a day.

Because of this, Mr Catbagan said, they can more than double their speed, and expect to finish it by Wednesday.

NEC Director Dr Eric Tayag assured the public that the buried pigs could not be excavated since it is buried below the ground and inside the farm itself.

He added that access to the farm is also limited.

Pigs to be Shot if Stunning Proves a Failure

The number of pigs culled turned out to be 1,237 by day two at a farm in Pandi, Bulacan, reports ABS-CBN News.

Bulacan's provincial health officer, Dr. Joy Gomez, who is also the spokesperson for the depopulation committee, reported Tuesday morning that the big increase in number from 442 yesterday is due to the adjustments and lessons learned from the procedures in last Sunday's dry-run.

According to Dr Gomez, depopulation teams started working around three in the afternoon on Monday and ended at past eight in the evening with 795 pigs culled.

Stunning, through the use of a captive bolt, is still the method used to cull the pigs.

New photos and videos were also released to media showing workers unloading pigs on the pit, workers taking tissue samples on pigs' carcasses, and the actual burning of culled pigs.

At Bocaue Public Market, which is two towns away from Pandi, Governor Jonjon Mendoza on Tuesday checked if the contamination of Ebola Reston virus at a farm in Pandi has affected pork sales in public markets of the province.

It turned out that pork sales were at a low even before the virus contamination was publicised.

Meanwhile, in the Markets

Meanwhile, Business World reports that the agriculture department plans to ask hog industry leaders next month to review their prices in a bid to spur currently dampened consumption.

"There is already reduced consumption people are shying away from pork products," Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador S. Salacup said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Mr Salacup said the drop in pork consumption resulted from a confluence of the Lenten season, the Ebola Reston scare, and high pork prices.

But Renato R. Eleria, chairman of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., said in a separate phone interview that "the occasional drop in consumption is not because of the Ebola Reston, but because retail prices have not gone down."

Pork prices rose to P160 per kilogram to P190/kg. last week from P150-P190/kg. in January and from P145-P170/kg. in end-December because of high feed prices, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data show.

Meanwhile, prices of corn, the main ingredient in animal feeds, rose to P21/kg. late in January fromP13-14/kg. in early January and from P12/kg. in December amid tight supply. Retail prices of corn were at P22.25/kg. late in February. The private sector shipped 100,000 metric tons of corn from Brazil and 120,000 MT of feed wheat — a feed ingredient used as a substitute for corn — from Ukraine last month to address the shortage. Mr. Eleria said farm-gate prices have fallen this month by P5/kg. from P110/kg. in January, but retail prices have yet to adjust accordingly.

The department will review cost of production and effects of the Ebola Reston scare on consumption, Mr Salacup said.

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