EU PiG Newsletter October 2017

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Hi, this is the third newsletter of the EU PiG project.  It provides news of the eight winning best practices in the 2017 EU PiG Grand Prix competition.  In addition, it highlights some of the other best practices shared by producers, to address the challenge of promoting a sustainable pig industry across the EU.

I hope the information is again of interest and useful, but you are also welcome to consider and contribute to the discussion group on Linked-In, and comment through the EU PiG Twitter page.

Steve Bradley
EU PiG Innovation Group

Announcing the Winners: EU PiG Grand Prix 2017 

Following final selection by RPIGs, project partners, and stakeholders, the eight winning best practices from the Grand Prix 2017 have been decided, and the winners awarded the title of EU PiG Ambassador.  The best practices represent the four project themes, covering eight nominated challenges identified by the industry in 2017.  There will be two new challenges chosen for each theme for the Grand Prix 2018, which will be announced shortly:

click here to see more information on all these winning Best Practices and the benefits involved on the EU PiG website. 

Additional detail will be added to the EU PiG website Best Practice page in due course, and meantime producers can contact their local Regional Pig Innovation Group (RPIG) leaders for more details on the best practices and other innovators in their region. Visit here for the RPIG contact details.

Precision production – smart water usage:  Clean and accessible water - Denmark
The herd uses a water purification system, (DCW), which ensures clean water and impairs the formation of biofilm in water pipes. The result is improved pig health and productivity and, in turn, lower costs. The component is a disinfectant that is biodegradable and approved for drinking water for production animals.
[As microbes grow, they attach themselves to wetted surfaces in the water distribution system. They protect themselves from disinfecting agents by forming biofilms. A biofilm contains a group of bacteria enveloped within a polymeric slime that ensures adhesion to the pipe surface; ]

Precision production – feed management: Routine weighing for accurate feeding - Denmark
Systematic routine weighing is used to choose the right feed mix, as well as routinely monitoring pig productivity. Pigs in the entire pen are weighed on a weekly basis, and data is typed into a system to monitor weight gain.
Meat quality – innovations in the supply chain:  ‘Heart Pig’: marketing via welfare brand - Denmark
The farmer’s pork is marketed under the ‘Heart Pig’ welfare brand, having put in place the specific management practices required.
Meat quality – reduction of boar taint: Male fatteners without boar taint – Germany
An EN-Z-EMA and Strat-E-Ger study looked at how fattening of uncastrated male piglets can work in practice, and found a way to reduce boar taint via the breeding programme, through selection of terminal line boars. 
Welfare – castration methods: Entire male production - Spain
It is estimated that around 80% of male piglets in Spain are produced without castration. This enables them to take advantage of the better efficiency of producing entire males, and to produce meat with a lower fat content. At the same time, they avoid the practice of castration, and preserve high welfare standards.
Welfare – tail docking: Rearing pigs with intact tails - Finland
Tail docking is banned in Finland, so this unit rears its 2,980 finisher pigs with intact tails, and uses a number of practical measures to ensure they comply with legislation, and maintain both welfare and productivity.
Health – Bio-security: Biosecurity tool – Ireland                
A 300-sow, farrow-to-finish unit that produces its own feed. It was the first to use an innovative Biosecurity Scoring Tool (Biocheck.UGent) to review biosecurity and help identify areas they needed to improve. The ultimate aim is for improvements in biosecurity to translate into better pig health and performance, along with lower costs.
Health – reduction of antimicrobial medication: Reducing antibiotic use – Netherlands
A Dutch farmer and his team has used biosecurity to reduce use of antibiotics to a very low level in order to reduce health risks in the herd,  and take a proactive approach to reducing the use of antibiotics, which has become a huge priority for veterinary and human medicine.

Some other best practice guides:

Teagasc Pig Farmers’ Conference 2017; 17th & 18th Oct 2017

This year’s conference organised by Teagasc featured a number of excellent presentations covering a broad array of topics relating to nutrition, pre-weaning mortality, insurance and farm investment to name but a few. The guest speaker Dr. Bob Goodband from Kansas State University looked at both sow and grower diets for the modern pig.
A comprehensive report on the conference and the issues discussed is now available on the Teagasc website, and can be downloaded from here.  The event presentations were also videoed, and they will be uploaded to the Teagasc website soon. 

Why precision livestock farming takes its time with pigs..

Did you know that finisher pigs in a barn can walk up to 4 km per day? And did you know that finisher pigs sometimes form couples while eating?

Vincent ter Beek, the Editor of Pig Progress attended a conference in Nantes in Sept, and in his article comments on the approaches adopted by researchers, whether choosing to focus on aspects of group behaviour, or to follow individual animals. In concluding that precision livestock farming (PLF) offers great opportunities and possibilities to farmers, there are some reasons offered why take up by the market is lower than many would have hoped.

Breeding: newborn management (indoors)

Newborn piglets are poorly equipped to keep warm immediately after birth and as the energy reserves to produce body heat (glycogen stored in the liver) are limited, a combination of factors means that piglets often become chilled. Piglets are also born with no immunity, and can only get this from colostrum soon after birth.

Colostrum is critical for development of the piglets’ own immune system is only available in quantity for about 12 hrs, and after 20 hrs the sow will be producing milk not colostrum. A minimum of 100 ml of colostrum per kilogram of birthweight within the first 16 hours is crucial to provide the energy, nutrients and antibodies needed for survival. Cross fostering can risk litter biosecurity, colostrum deprivation and social exclusion that can result in a growth check. 

More guidance & top tips in #AHDB video here

Animal welfare and other articles in the September issue of the Teagasc newsletter

The newsletter provides a range of practical advice and guidance that has been learned from over 10 years experience since transitioning to a three-week batch farrowing system, and includes some of the pit-falls to be avoided. 

There is a report on the findings from the 7th International conference on the assessment of farm animal welfare (WAFL) 2017, held in The Netherlands, which is the only conference dedicated to farm animal welfare.  There was a focus on linking animal welfare to indicators of sustainability, on the role of animal welfare in society, on refining and improving the ways in which welfare on farms is measured. It also considered how to achieve a better understanding of the perceptions and attitudes of all stakeholders, including producers and citizens, about animal welfare.  The report includes contributions from Wageningen Univ., Austria, Israel, Denmark, and the UK.

Another article provides background to an experiment to study the impact of giving a variety of enrichment materials to piglets during lactation, as a way of reducing biting behaviour for piglets. 

Recent publications:

EIP-AGRI has published the fourth edition of its Agrinnovation magazine, giving a round-up of EIP-AGRI news, events and stories from the past year.  This includes a section on page 15 about Thematic networks, who collect, share and exchange knowledge and best practices, with EU PiG being one of the 17 now up and running.

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing (  ) is a publisher focused on supporting agricultural science research. They are publishing new volumes covering pigs - Achieving sustainable production of pig meat: Volume 1: Safety, quality and sustainability; Volume 2: Animal breeding and nutrition, and Volume 3: Animal health and welfare. Full details can be found here  

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Exchanging knowledge, sharing innovation. Action to improve the pig industry.

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EU PiG Grand Prix

A contest to identify best practice in each of the project's four thematic areas.

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