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Photo: SEGES

A future focused on welfare – Herning Pig Congress

Some 2,244 participants attended the annual Herning pig congress in Central Denmark from 24th to 25th October.

The event was an opportunity for everyone involved in the Danish pig industry – producers, farm workers, scientists, researchers, veterinarians, journalists and other stakeholders – to get updated on the latest research and exchange experiences with colleagues. It is a unique event in the global pig industry calendar and comprises a general meeting followed by more than 60 different presentations from which participants can choose. This year topics ranged from the future of Danish farming, the phasing out of zinc in piglet diets and its consequences, good farrowing practice, managing a pig farm, using Facebook, encouraging young people into farming and much more besides.

In his presentation, Erik Larsen, Chairman of Seges Danish Pig Research Centre, set out its future strategy which hinges upon exemplary animal welfare standards, i.e. intact tails, loose-housed sows in the farrowing unit and an end to castration.

“Over the coming decade we will do everything we can to become the global frontrunner in producing for today’s demanding consumers,” he said. “If the industry itself sets visionary goals that meet society’s concerns, it will be easier for us to set the time frame for developments and communicate the challenges ourselves. All this will be a significant challenge, but this is the way we have to go.”

Larsen also pointed out that Danish pig producers are more optimistic about the future, with some even starting to invest again. Indeed, it seems that 2017 will turn out to be a record year for Danish pig producers, with China being responsible for much of the turnaround.

Christian Fink Hansen, the new Director of Seges Danish Pig Research Centre, also addressed the general meeting and touched upon many of the topics covered in more detail at the subsequent presentations.

These included:

  • The impact of the phasing out of medicinal zinc
  • Tail biting – the pig’s tail posture can be an early indication of tail-biting
  • That the Danish breeding system, DanAvl, is to DNA test 100% of breeding stock compared to the previous 40%
  • The results of recent trails have confirmed that Duroc continues to reign supreme in Danish production

The general atmosphere, which was optimistic and forward-looking, was no doubt enhanced by the free supplies of “Pisner” lager, which were available during lunch and the gala dinner – the ultimate result of thousands of litres of urine collected at the Roskilde rock festival in August!