The British Pig Health Scheme (BPHS), launched in July 2005 by BPEX, has proved such a hit with farmers and vets that a new improved three-year scheme is starting on 01 July 2008.
BPHS provides members, their vets, abattoirs and funding partners with regular, objective and detailed post-mortem health assessments from pigs submitted to 14 specialist pig abattoirs in England. To date the BPHS team of specialist pig vets have reported on more than 12,000 consignments of pigs.
Initial analysis of the data from those members who have been regularly assessed since 2005 has shown units which started with higher than average scores for enzootic pneumonia, pleurisy and milk spot liver have all been making good progress in reducing the number of pigs affected.
With feed prices rising good herd management has never been more important in order to maximize efficiency and profitability of the unit - on average for every increase of £10 / tonne in feed cost, the cost of production increases by 3.9 pence/kg deadweight. Both Enzootic Pneumonia (EP) and "milk spot" have big effects on food conversion ratio (FCR) and daily liveweight gain (DLWG). Pleurisy not only affects welfare and performance but is also the biggest cause of partial and total carcase condemnations in abattoirs.
Chronic EP infections will result in poorer feed conversion efficiency and reduced daily gain. In acute infections greater performance reductions will be seen. Improving FCR by 0.1 is worth at least £1.60 per pig and an extra 50g per day in growth rate can be worth over £2 per pig - and these figures were based on 2006-07 feed costs!
A survey of members of the scheme found that all of the farmers surveyed discussed the BPHS reports with their vets when reviewing pig health and performance. Over 60% of producers and 80% of vets have been taking action on farms to tackle health issues using information from their reports.
In practice, the scheme has helped individual businesses to develop and implement health improvement plans resulting in improved physical and financial performance.
The new scheme comes with the additional benefits of the opportunity for vets to take additional samples, increased number of assessment days, consultations with vets about conditions they have observed in the abattoir and better defined detail on pleurisy.
You can find our more about the scheme by logging onto www.bpex.org.uk or call 01463 233184. There is also a DVD available explaining how the scheme works, which can be obtained by calling 01908 844734.
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