NZFarmer : December 16th 2009
7 Straight Furrow • December 15, 2009 NewsViews Letters to the editor Clearing the air on pig welfare DESPITE the attention on pig wel- fare over the past few months there is still confusion in both rural and urban circles about how pigs are farmed. To be fair there is a good reason for this. There are about 230 "commercial" pigfarms and around 1.4 million households in New Zealand, (one farm per 6000 house- holds). Given this scenario I thought it worth taking a couple of minutes to explain a few details. Pigs were first domesticated around 9000 years ago. I'm not sure whether it was the pork roast with crackle, the ham sammie, or bacon and eggs, but today it's number one, making up 40 per cent of the world's meat consump- tion. As demand for pork increased globally, commercial production emerged and with it came significant changes. Pigs headed indoors -- the reasons were obvious: environmental temperature is one of the most critical factors in pigs functioning and produc- tion. Domesticated pigs (unlike sheep and cattle) lack the insulation from thick coats to protect them and don't sweat, so they are susceptible to cold and heat. Pigs at different stages have quite different temperature require- ments e.g. suckling pigs, 27-35 deg C; weaners, 24-30 deg C; and growers and sows are able to perform at greater ranges e.g. 15-30 deg C. Housing offered protection from variable weather, predators and parasitic and enteric diseases, and assisted nutri- tional efficiency while minimising envi- ronmental impacts -- all good out- comes for animal welfare. While housing indoors was beneficial for the pig, the hierarchical behaviour of sows (female breeders) during preg- nancy became an issue. Sows are very hormonal (high progesterone levels) for the first four weeks of pregnancy and very aggressive. Dominant sows will bully others, even causing severe injuries and preventing some sows from getting adequate feed -- this results in lost pregnancies. The sow stall was developed to sepa- rate the sows, allowing protection and individual care during pregnancy. As a result, welfare and reproduction rates increased dramatically. In most countries exporting to New Zealand these stalls are used for full pregnancy but the New Zealand industry has committed to phase down to the mini- mum critical time -- the first four weeks of pregnancy. Another innovation was the develop- ment of the farrowing crate which pro- vides some separation of the sow and piglets during and following birth. Litters generally have 10 plus piglets. Sows are poor counters and careless with the way they throw their weight around. Thus the 150kg sow is notori- ous for squashing her 1.5kg piglets, and being an omnivore is not shy of s ffing the odd one that gets too close. The sow is also very aggressive during this time, and the enclosure helps piggery staff to assist the sow nd piglets without themselves being in danger. Sow stalls and farrowing crates dramatically increased the number of piglets sur viving in each litter. This allowed farmers to run fewer sows. Compared with the 1970s we have 40 per cent less sows producing the same amount of finishing pigs. With the industry's phasing down of sow stall use, on any given day in an indoor New Zealand piggery only two per cent of the pigs are likely to be sows in stalls and a further two per cent will be sows in farrowing crates. The New Zealand industry does have some unique characteristics -- the combination of a temperate climate and free draining soils allows some 40 per cent of our sow herd to be run out- doors, predominantly in Canterbury. However, very few pigs are finished outdoors: estimated less than one per cent. Given temperature and highly specific nutrition requirements and the focus on meat quality, following wean- ing the pigs are grown under protec- tion ranging from open ended barns through to fully climate controlled sheds. If you want to know more visit our new farming website www.pigfarminginnz.co.nz • Sam McIvor is chief executive of New Zealand Pork by Sam McIvor Hog Blog THE Response to Ray Lodge, Straight Fur row, December 8, 2009. I'd like to respond to Ray Lodge's question: 'What's wrong with our wool marketers?' His call for promotion of wool using its natural, sustainable and other fine attributes are valid. I'm pleased to say that there are pro- grammes underway that market the advantages wool has over its competi- tor synthetics, both initiated here in New Zealand (like our Just Shorn brand) and by other wool producers across the world. Ray's call to action reflects a distinct global trend of consumer demand for luxurious natural products. Even in these difficult economic conditions, there are substantial premiums paid for products that can be proven to be envi- ronmentally sustainable. Luxury carpets made from New Zealand wool have a very compelling marketing story. Brands that represent our wool must weave a tale of the fibre, nature and the environment. When exe- cuted well it is my belief that consumers who focus on quality will return to wool over synthetic. Key to any success however, is the need to educate end consumers and also those selling the carpet etc. The lack of attention paid at the consumer- retail interface has sadly let down wool across the globe. I firmly believe any strategy whose aim is to improve the selling price of wool and profitability for growers must have: • A strong brand that targeted con- sumers relate to, and that clearly com- municates the attributes of wool; • Include training for the sales force so that when asked they can answer consumers questions; • Robust proof of authenticity/ origin of the wool. Craig Wilson Elders New Zealand Wool promotions well underway RURAL DIARY A selection of events around the country. December 18 Carols by candlelight, Kuirua Park, Rotorua. 7pm. Free. www.rotoruaNZ.com/events December 18 Christmas in the Park, Hawke's Bay Showgrounds, Hastings. www.fiestaoflights.co.nz December 19 Canterbury Community Trust Lantern Celebration, Botanical Reserve, Milton Street, Nelson. 6:30pm. Free. www.nelsonfestival.co.nz December 26 Caroline Bay Carnival opens, Timaru. Includes New Year's Eve fireworks display. Contact email@example.com December 27 Waimate Rodeo, Waimate Showgrounds. Phone 03 689 6220. January 3-10 Paihia Summer Festival. Various family activities including competitions for the kids. Contact Anika, 09 407 5574 or visit www.paihia.co.nz/events January 9 Tairua Wine and Food Festival, Tairua School, Coromandel. www.tairua.school.nz • Send listings to firstname.lastname@example.org 0800 440 290 www.polarisindustries.co.nz *Offer ends 31/12/09 or while stocks last at authorised participating New Zealand Polaris dealers. Prices include GST. Not valid with any other offer. Fuel your little Outlaw's love of the ride Until X'mas, we're dramatically cutting the rideaway prices of our Outlaw youth ATVs. So fuel your child's love of the ride this Christmas with an Outlaw 50 or Outlaw 90. OUTLAW 50 $2,395* RIDE AWAY OUTLAW 90 $3,395* RIDE AWAY TANK VAC The Base Overflow system is recommended by the NZ Ministry of Health. Tank Vac was developed in association with Waikato University Engineers & Auckland University of Technology Microbiologists. NZ Pat 511142 and 542769 Through new supply contracts, we are able to offer the new much lower Summer Price $265 delivered Ph 0800 TANKVAC (0800 826582) USE THE HEAVY EARLY SUMMER DOWNPOURS AND THE SYSTEM DESIGNED BY SCIENTISTS AT WAIKATO UNI TO CLEAN THE SLUDGE FROM THE BASE OF YOUR WATER TANK. ENJOY CLEAR, RICHLY OXYGENATED WATER THROUGH THE SUMMER. NO ODOURS. EASILY FITTED BY A FARMER OR KIWI HANDYMAN.
December 9th 2009