The range of new pig products and innovations in equipment, production systems and techniques to improve health, welfare and general efficiency revealed at EuroTier and SPACE indicate that the international pig industry has its sights firmly fixed on the future.
Developers and researchers dug deep to find the best ways to help pig producers meet the increasing demands being put on them by government, retailers and consumers around the world.
Pig equipment trends
The latest feeding systems for pigs kept in group housing and high-tech animal identification systems will make it easier for producers to keep a close eye on individual pigs. It’s also bodes well that the world demand for pig meat is expected to continue to rise.
As Dr. Eberhard Hartung, from the Institute of Agricultural Process Engineering, at the Christian Albrechts University Kiel, chairman of the EuroTier innovations commission, said “This year's very versatile trends in pig husbandry are characterized not least by the fact that technical solutions are being offered for questions arising in particular from more recent framework conditions concerning pig husbandry methods and improving animal welfare in keeping methods.”
However, pig industry’s leaders cannot forget about the need to keep a close eye on enhanced training schemes to ensure pig producers and their employees know how to operate this complex new equipment—and how to adopt and manage the latest production systems.
More emphasis needs to be devoted on advanced training for animal handlers and unit supervisors, for example, as production systems become more efficient, sophisticated and professional.
This is particularly important now, because with the rise in demands for better health and welfare in pig units, it cannot be long before pig farmers – and all other farmers – need a licence, or qualification before they can start producing food for people (if they haven’t done so already).
Many pig producers and employees in parts of the world today also need to learn more about the basics of modern pig production, especially in those countries where the industry is growing. It is both interesting and pleasing to see that experienced Western training organizers are being invited into Asia to help its growing band of commercial pig farmers improve the quality and quantity of production on their farms and slaughter houses.
Global pig ‘Indaba’
Pig industry leaders need to start looking for opportunities to cooperate on a global basis to upgrade pig production and help pig producers everywhere become more professional, efficient and “user-friendly” as far as the general public is concerned.
This international “Indaba” (a Zulu word that means meeting is now widely used in southern Africa to describe an important gathering) could be launched at the World Pork Expo, or a similar international show for the pig world. It should encompass the whole food chain, animal feed businesses, pig breeding companies, vets and pig management consultants, as well as the producers, slaughterers, processors, marketing bodies, retailers and consumers – from farm to fork.
Pig disease prevention
The pig industry cannot afford to waste any time. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported that African Swine Fever in the Ukraine posed a risk to neighboring countries, including Latvia, Moldova and Kazakhstan, which all have large “backyard” pig populations.
The German agriculture ministry also issued an official warning about the disease in Russia and called for controls at EU borders to be stepped up to combat the disease and stop people from those countries taking pork into Germany, or anywhere else within the EU.
The industry needs to work together to ensure it can provide the advanced training pig producers need to allow them to keep up to date with all the modern developments on an international basis so they can operate in a professional manner safely and effectively and enhance the image of pig keeping.