Animal funds

New animal health review wants pig farmers to do a ‘soft launch’

Pig producers are invited to form the first test group for the Annual Health and Welfare Review, which is part of the Animal Health and Welfare pathway.

The review is the recipient of the first of four funding pots under the Animal Health and Welfare pathway, which aims to reward farmers for providing public goods.

See also: Farmers will be paid for better animal welfare

Stewart Houston, pig sector manager and non-executive member of the Animal Health and Welfare Council for England, said it was hoped the review would be launched at the pig and poultry fair .

However, in light of the current challenges facing the sector, a ‘soft’ launch of 500 farmers would start this summer instead, followed by further commercial trials later in the year.

What is that?

The Annual Health and Welfare Review will cover funding for a veterinarian or veterinarian-led team to visit a farm and perform an annual animal health and welfare review. Christine Middlemiss, UK’s Chief Veterinarian, says this is designed to allow producers and vets to ‘book time’ to spend together, discussing specific health and welfare issues at hand.

Pig farmers will receive £684 for each examination, which will cover both vet and farmer time, as well as testing and sampling for endemic diseases, she says.

What does the exam cover?

The exam is expected to last two to three hours and will look at farm-specific health and wellness issues. The veterinarian will then prepare a report containing the recommendations and actions agreed with the breeder.

The review will also include testing for endemic diseases, with the aim of better understanding national and regional disease pressures.

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), an endemic “iceberg” disease, is the focus of the review.

The disease is estimated to cost industry over £50million a year, and the aim is to first control it and then eradicate it.

What happens to the data?

Following a visit to the farm, anonymized information will be submitted to Defra, including the results of diagnostic tests. This will be uploaded to a portal hosted by the Rural Payments Agency.

Martin Jenkins, Defra’s policy officer, points out that the information will not be used in the context of farm inspections and that the majority of the information will be kept between the veterinarian and the farmer.

Who can apply?

Currently, the review is only open to producers applying for support under the Basic Payment Scheme and owning a minimum of 50 pigs.

How to register

To confirm your interest or submit questions, contact Paul Adesanya at [email protected] or Laura McCormick at [email protected]

What is the PRRS?

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a virus that causes reproductive disorders in sows. It can also cause respiratory problems throughout the pig’s life cycle, from weaning to finishing.

Clinical signs include weight loss, fever, loss of appetite and labored breathing. PRRS can also cause mummified fetuses, premature births, and stillbirths.

The virus is often introduced by surrogate pigs or other vectors such as flies and manure. It can be carried by the wind over short distances. Once present in a herd, it can be transmitted in a number of ways, including nose-to-nose contact and from sow to piglet during gestation.

If left unresolved, PRRS can negatively impact production and lead to increased piglet mortality.

Source: AHDB