When Dr. John Carr, an international livestock consultant and veterinarian, who lives in England, read the Canadian draft Pig Code of Ethics during comment period in June 2013, he said Canada could well be at a significant disadvantage if the hog industry falls under the regulations of the draft Pig Code.
Dr. Carr said a number of key areas, if left as is and implemented, would disadvantage Canadian hog farmers and others if left as is would cause confusion and, still others, setback pig welfare, production, and productivity in Canada.
In a recent follow up interview on various issues, the new Canadian Pig Code, PED virus, and hog prices, Carr says he actually likes the new revised Pig Code. 1-DSC_1303-001
“In truth it actually looks ok,” he says. “There is very little of it I totally disagree with and some of the issues we raised, the addressed in the rewrite.”
In Carr’s view, the fact producers can keep sows in a breeding stall area until confirmed pregnant as in 28 days plus seven will be a God-send.
“Even in Europe, we can still have sows in stalls until confirmed pregnant,” he says. “I have various breeding technologies which we need to be able to use which really work on the fact that you can keep a sow in a stall for that first critical 28 days because the pigs don’t tend to like each other very much.”
They may sort of like each other but bloody big animals at 500 to 750 pounds jumping one another, end up hurting each other. He doesn’t see how that is in the interest of the pig either, he adds.
“I’m pleasantly surprised. Obviously it is a typical Canadian publication very well done very professional, nice colours, and very good professional work,” says Carr.
On the PED virus outbreak in the United States going on into the second year, Dr. Carr considers in some respects PED is a bit of a quandary.
“It is highly contagious, highly infectious and it is almost like how has Canada stayed relatively free,” he says. “Some of these things don’t really add up. I appreciate we have a slight problem on a couple of farms, but I was dubious and can buy in to the blood plasma in that particular case possibly being the cause.”
He suspects what possibly happened is that they batch feed and somehow the blood plasma didn’t process correctly. While doubtful in his mind, blood plasma is the cause, but if it is, then obviously blood plasma is the risk.
“One can’t be blind to science; they’ve done that work in Manitoba showing pigs were able to get it from the blood plasma, I have to accept that,” he says. “If blood plasma is a serious risk the whole of America, Canada, and Mexico would have gone positive on day one because almost everybody uses it.”
Soon as there’s one case, everyone would have it, but that is clearly not true.
He knows hog farmers in Europe use American blood plasma, but Europe is negative to the current U.S. type problem, that is good news in some respects.
He’s hoping if Canada can dampen down PED cases and cancelled and it hasn’t really spread, there is a good chance it won’t. With a little bit more tightening of biosecurity, a little more care and concern, who knows, Canada could well stay free of a massive PEDv spread. Keep the collective noses clean for about six more months when the peak of the infections start to really wane.
“My experience with PED it is relatively short lived and once all the pigs are positive and that is the big issue getting all the pigs positive,” says Carr. “There is sometimes a double dip that everyone needs to be aware of you can get secondary cases about a month or six weeks later because people don’t put enough effort into the feedback program and getting every pig positive and you end up with these subpopulations and when this sub-population comes through, you can end up with a secondary blip.”
His experience with PED in Asia is don’t take the precautions away, just because there hasn’t been any new cases for a month or so.
“I work with PED in Asia and have for 20-odd years and the trouble with it is, some of my most biosecure units can break,” he says. “A truck drives past and you can only do the best you can and things still happen. People can’t be too critical of themselves.”
Dr. Carr says in some respects with PED it is a disaster, and doesn’t belittle it; then on the other hand the industry can control it.
“With the units I have with PED in Taiwan, they can still be extremely profitable and successful,” he says. “I must reevaluate their production targets for six months and not panic.
I can live through it and be a successful pig farmer and try to stop its reintroduction the next time around.” •
— By Harry Siemens