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Herning Pig Congress

Assessing the past and mapping the future

The annual get-together of the Danish pig producing community took place in Herning in central Jutland on 23rd and 24th October. Although it was blowing a gale outside, inside the congress centre the atmosphere among the record-breaking 2,200 participants was warm and convivial.

“The pig congress is a unique opportunity to be updated on the latest news from the industry, whether this relates to feed, housing or the situation in the world around us,” said Christian Fink, Sector Director of SEGES Pig Production. “The congress provides a meeting place for the entire pig industry and an opportunity to cement relationships.”

The good news from Herning was that, according to figures from InterPIG, Danish pig producers rank first alongside Spain in terms of the cost of production, i.e. DKK 10 (GBP 1.19) per kg.

Commenting on the results, Erik Larsen, Chairman, Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Pig Production, said:

“Cost levels are generally so high in Denmark that we have to be more efficient than our competitors abroad. Our European ranking is a great achievement; it’s a sign that we producers have succeeded in deriving maximum benefit from the knowledge we have gained and the breeding progress we have made. We must continue along this path and remain pro-active and alert.”

The second piece of good news was that over the past three years, the DanBred breeding programme has produced a sustained annual increase of DKK 16.14 (GBP 1.92) per pig. And when it comes to weaning per litter, Danish pig producers rank among the world leaders with 14.6 weaned.

Read: New strategy for Danish pig production

However, there was no doubting that Denmark’s pig farmers are currently facing difficult times and are likely to encounter losses of around DKK 1.6-1.9 million next year. Feed costs are set to increase substantially because of the exceptionally poor harvest brought on by the summer’s severe drought. Moreover, payments for finished pig production have fallen below expectations, which have led to hardship for many farmers. The shadow of a no-deal Brexit and the threat of African Swine Fever also loom large.

The congress saw the launch of a new strategy for 2018-2020 for Danish pig production. The three strategic priorities are competitive pig production (which includes encouraging more finisher production) sustainability and certification and animal welfare and social acceptance. Progress is thus expected to be made in more farrowing pens for loose-housed nursing sows, more intact tails, the abolition of castration and increased piglet survival.

Denmark’s Finance Minister Kristian Jensen was among the 60 plus speakers at the special sessions that followed the general meeting. Providing an overview of the Danish economy, he reminded Danish pig farmers of their importance to Denmark:

“I would like to say thank you – for being productive and for creating the prosperity that enables us to have the public sector we have in Denmark. You are important to the country and to its economy. The export revenue we get from you lies at the basis of the strong economy we currently enjoy.”

Other guest speakers included Dr. Bradley Wolther from the U.S. who spoke on Transforming U.S. Pig Production, Dr. Sermsak Jiebna from Thailand who gave an account of his long partnership with Danbred and Jarrod Sutton who shared his insight into consumer trends in the U.S.