International Pig Genetics Infiltrating French Market at SPACE 2016

FRANCE - This French livestock event held in Rennes, France , is one of the few shows which is still held on an annual basis. Most of the competitor shows are held every two years but SPACE has successfully bucked that trend, writes Stuart Lumb for The Pig Site.
calendar icon 5 October 2016
clock icon 5 minute read

French farmers love their show – when times are good they come to celebrate and when times are bad they still come – only in this case to commiserate. The French are never slow at protesting when prices are poor but the 2016 edition was uneventful in this respect.

Significantly though there was a non farming protest outside one entrance, by an animal rights group.

This was the 30th edition of SPACE, with over 100,000 attendees passing through the turnstiles.

Around 12 per cent of visitors were from overseas (120 different countries), this group being slightly down this year as a consequence of the clash with the important religious festival Eid Al Adha.

Farming is still very important in France as evidenced by the attendance at the show of the French Minister of Agriculture, Stephane Le Foll.

The event is a showcase for farming companies and this year brought together 1,445 exhibitors including 484 international exhibitors from 42 different countries.

As is the norm, companies can enter the new products competition and this year 50 exhibitors received Innov’Space Awards.

Like most of Europe, the French pig industry has been suffering, with the national breeding herd dropping year on year by three per cent. However, prices have been rising, nearing €1.60/kg deadweight with exports to China contributing to this price increase.

Given that the bulk of the French pig industry is in Brittany, the industry is well represented at SPACE.

There are many quality French breeding companies in existence but over the years the major international genetics houses have gradually been infiltrating the French market and taking market share.

Danish breeding stock is found in increasing numbers worldwide, including France. Danish company Porc-Ex export York, Landrace and Duroc genes to France and Porc-Ex (France), which was exhibiting at SPACE, is constantly looking for new multipliers.

The way that the Danish breeding pyramid operates is very complex. Due to a change in circumstances, Porc-Ex is now considering buying all their breeding stock and semen from the well known Canadian based genetics house Genesus Inc, with the company’s Duroc being much sought after for its excellent eating quality.

Northern European pig producers are more concerned about welfare than perhaps France is, hence many exhibitors were still featuring traditional farrowing pens with fixed crates. However, a few companies had larger farrowing pens with opening crates on display.

As well as welfare issues, the French pig industry is having to reduce the amount of antibiotics it uses and companies are actively looking for alternatives. One such company is Olmix. This Brehan, Brittany company has been using marine algae extensively to produce poultry meat and pork, which is antibiotic free.

The company received an Innov’Space award for its Searup product which contains marine algae that are rich in Marine Sulfated Polysaccarides (MSPs). It’s use is recommended at stressful times, eg vaccination, whereby using it reduces the impact of stress on the pig.

SPACE is a multi species show with around 550 cattle of many different breeds competing for awards in the main ring. Highlighted this year were the Montbeliarde and Rouge de Pres breeds.

There were also 150 sheep and goats of 10 different breeds attracting visitors’ attention.

At the moment French dairy farmers are getting paid 24.5p/litre, just above the EU weighted average of 22.5p/litre but 10 cents below the cost of production, with average herd size increasing.

Having said that, the cattle lines were buzzing and there were a good number of companies receiving Innov’SPACE awards.

Injecting or dosing cattle can be a difficult task at the best of times. Ideally one person can restrain the animal whilst another carries out the task, sadly labour is a scarce resource these days.

With this in mind, French company Mazeron Naudot won a 2 star award for its ingenious labour saving restraint device.

This is a moveable frame which moves along the pen front. The heads of 2 or 4 cattle are restrained by large metal “blinkers” (to borrow a term from the equine industry), so enabling the cattle to be easily treated or injected.

Cleaning out water bowls by hand is a thankless task – net result – it doesn’t happen. Hence Irish company JFC Manufacturing of County Galway, Ireland has come up with an ingenious solution, the JKC “Dumpy-Tip-over Drinker”.

This is a 3.5 litre drinking bowl which is hinged at one side, so that at the press of a button the bowl swings sideways through 180 degrees, empties itself and then returns empty to its normal position. This new product also gained 2 stars.

Poultry also features at SPACE, as France has a major broiler and layer industry. Collinson is a British Company selling silos and specialist poultry equipment through its French dealer Matavicol, based in the heart of Britanny.

“Collinson’s broiler spin feeder system is attracting a lot of interest and the stand was busy throughout the show, with many existing and potentially new customers stopping by for a chat,” commented Matavicol.

All in all, SPACE 2016 went very well with next year’s show due to take place 12-15 September 2017.

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