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Getting better all the time

A new report from the Danish Pig Research Centre highlighted some significant improvements in pig welfare achieved during 2011.

The Danish pig industry launched a new strategy for improved welfare during 2010, encompassing many areas of pig production, such as lowering rates of mortality, development of loose housing systems for sows and reducing use of antibiotic medicines with greater focus on animal health and management improvements.

As the issues surrounding the impending ban on sow stalls continued to dominate the headlines, the first report on the progress of the implementation of the new Danish industry strategy identified some welcome improvements in several other key areas.

Sow mortality fell to 13.7%, compared to the level of 15.2% in 2008, with a similar reduction in piglet mortality also being identified.

The report also recorded better use of hospital pens and use of antibiotics in 2011 was around 20% lower than the previous year.

"I’m pleased that we now have documentation in place to show that pig producers are doing their best to ensure high welfare standards for their livestock. We have kick-started a trend in our industry that we can be proud of and our efforts will continue,” says Lindhart B. Nielsen, the Chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre.

"We will also pursue our welfare objectives through research and development and we will continue to inform our members about new insights from our research programmes and ensure they understand all the implications of new welfare regulations. At the same time, we have the option of increasing controls on those who fall below our standard. Our work is focused on ensuring a good life for the pig so that pig producers can run their farms and our customers and their consumers can be assured of the highest standards of meat quality.”