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Danes Seek to Raise Standards Further

by 5m Editor
30 June 2010, at 2:31pm

DENMARK - There have been a number of recent initiatives undertaken in Denmark, which will provide continuing momentum in driving up of welfare and safety standards within the country's pig industry.

According to the Danish Agriculture and Food Council's Pig Research Centre, in particular, there will be a movement towards more risk-based control of standards on Danish farms, which will provide a basis for better targeting of resources in this area as well as delivering a powerful incentive for all producers to aim for best practice.

Identifying best practice

From August, all farmers with more than 300 sows or with an annual production of 6,000 weaners or 3,000 finished pigs (representing around 90 per cent of Danish pig farmers) will be grouped into three new categories. The three categories – 'good farming practice', 'satisfactory farming practice' and 'unsatisfactory farming practice' – will be linked to factors such as use of antibiotic medicines and levels of mortality on farm.

All use of antibiotics on Danish farms is recorded in a centralised national database (VETSTAT) and the authorities also have access to independent data on the mortality on Danish pig farms via the national carcase collection service organised by DAKA a.m.b.a

Pig producers demonstrating 'good' or 'satisfactory' farm practice will be given the opportunity of reducing the frequency of visits by local veterinarians under the requirements of animal health programmes. However, those producers demonstrating 'unsatisfactory farm practice' will be more closely targeted within the programme of unannounced visits within the controls carried out by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, to ensure compliance with the requirements of welfare and other legislation.

New self-audit programme

In addition, a new 'self-audit' programme is being introduced for pig producers, who will required to keep an updated record of their own compliance with the detailed requirements of welfare legislation and other aspects of animal husbandry.

Review of these self-audits will now form a significant part of the regular visits carried out by local veterinarians, who are now required to alert the relevant authorities to any producers consistently failing to observe welfare or other requirements – under a new 'yellow card' system.

Use of antibiotics

Finally, the Danish pig industry has agreed to implement a two-year ban on the use of cephalosporins in treating pigs, pending a fuller investigation into their potential in development of antibiotic-resistant extended beta-lactamase (ESBL) bacteria in livestock, with implications for their transfer into the food chain and human population. This is the latest in the series of many precautionary initiatives undertaken within the Danish pig industry to curb the development of resistant bacteria within livestock.

The latest information on overall use of antibiotics in Danish pig production has shown a small increase in recent years but this is due, in part, to an increase in the number of pigs produced. The industry is confident that their efforts to spread good practice among producers will reverse this trend and, with an average of 3.8g per pig produced, the use of antibiotics is already low in comparison to most other major pig-producing countries.