Report shows UK pig sector's health and welfare advances

The new report details the council's achievements from the past two years and highlights priorities for the coming year
The new report details the council's achievements from the past two years and highlights priorities for the coming year

A report has been released which details the pig sectors's health and welfare achievements from the past two years and highlights priorities for the coming year.

The Pig Health and Welfare Council (PHWC) launched its biennial report at the Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday (9 July).

It details the valuable work undertaken by the sector in improving pig health and welfare in the UK.

It was unveiled by PHWC chair, Dr Jane Downes, who also set out the strategy for developing a new vision for pig health and welfare by 2030.



She emphasised that without healthy pigs and safe pork products, there is no commodity to trade.

The council identified six themes to take the pig sector forward. These themes are:



• Partnership working with those in the pig industry and other farm animal sectors

• Maintain and extend disease surveillance

• Reduce, control or eliminate endemic disease, including those with food safety implications, with the aim of reducing the need for the use of antibiotics

• Use of data and new technologies

• Provide evidence that all production systems provide for physical and mental wellbeing

• Promote professional skills

During the past two years, the council has taken a new approach to managing projects, holding workshops and developing smaller programmes of work.

One such workshop resulted in Exercise Trent, a disease simulation exercise held to test the contingency plan for dealing with an outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv).

The exercise was implemented primarily by the AHDB, with support from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).



Other programmes of work have focused on topics such as African swine fever, LA-MRSA and hepatitis E, and the council has also had a wider involvement in the tail-biting action group and Defra’s revised code of practice for pig welfare.

Antibiotic use drops

Another industry achievement that is highlighted in the new report is the considerable advances in reducing antibiotic usage in pigs.

The council continues to support the industry to reduce antibiotic use again to 110 mg/PCU in 2018.

This represents a further 16% reduction on 2017 figures and edges closer to the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU.

Dr Downes said the council recognises that many of the challenges faced by the industry in 2017 and 2018 will continue to be of importance in 2019 and 2020.

These include the threat of disease, welfare issues, zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance.

She said: “We aim to secure a sustainable and profitable industry which has the ability to invest in new technologies, disease-control measures and high welfare standards in all production systems, meeting the requirements of both present customers and new markets.”