Pig Health and Welfare Council launches biennial report at the Great Yorkshire Show

Valuable work around improving pig health and welfare in the UK has been highlighted in a new report launched on Tuesday (July 9) at the Great Yorkshire Show.

The new biennial report was unveiled by Dr. Jane Downes MRCVS, who chairs the Pig Health and Welfare Council (PHWC).

At the event, Dr. Downes also set out the strategy for developing the new 20:30 vision for pig health and welfare.

The biennial report details the PHWC’s achievements from the past two years and highlights priorities for the coming year as well as giving an overview of the current state of the sector.

During the past two years, the council has taken a new approach to managing projects, holding workshops and developing smaller, manageable 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 Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), with support from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), and proved to be a useful exercise.

Other programmes of work have focused on topics such as African Swine Fever, LA-MRSA and Hepatitis.

The council’s involvement in the tail-biting action group and Defra’s revised code of practice for pig welfare are also highlighted, as well as the considerable advances in reducing antibiotic usage in pigs.

The group continues to support the industry to reduce antibiotic use again to 110mg/PCU in 2018. This represents a further 16% reduction on 2017 figures and edges closer to the 2020 industry target of 99mg/PCU.

20:30 vision

To achieve their vision of a safe, sustainable and profitable industry, PHWC has identified six themes for the sector to work on. Stakeholders will be consulted so the council can be confident it has identified the correct route.

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.

Dr. Downes said: “In future, we will need to think about the bigger picture in any recommendations for change, the impact on the environment, air quality, water quality and waste management and, to this end, we will be inviting such experts to join the PHWC.

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

“We will be working with the pig industry to update the 20:20 vision to take the industry forward to 2030. 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.”