2019 Pig Feed Quality Conference a marked success
Amid an environment made uncertain by the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic plaguing China, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 2019 Asian Agribiz Pig Feed Quality Conference successfully hosted 180 pig industry stakeholders from Asia and beyond for two days of strong presentations and discussions.
The event, held on April 24-25 at Bangkok’s Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, kicked off with a presentation on ASF from Alan Dawson, Business Segment Head for Swine (Southeast Asia and South Korea) at Boehringer Ingelheim.
He noted that with a vaccine against the virus at least eight years away, the best way to protect a farm is to ensure it has effective biosecurity protocols in place. He also underscored the importance of reaching out and partnering not only with customers but other suppliers in the market, noting that all industry members are “in it together.”
Limited antibiotic use
The conference’s first session focused on managing disease and nutrition-with or without AGPs. Swine nutrition specialist Megan Edwards offered participants strategies to address the challenges faced by pig producers in the tropics.
She noted that while the use of AGPs is on the way out, antibiotics will continue to have a role in maintaining health and welfare of pigs. The key is to be responsible in their use so that antibiotics will remain effective for livestock and humans.
Other session speakers agree that without AGPs, pig producers must implement a holistic program for which, the end goal is to ensure and maintain the pig’s gut, its biggest immune organ, that involves biosecurity, management and nutritional tools.
Consumers call the shots
Rounding off the first day was David Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, who noted that one of the current consumer trends in food is the growing demand for more ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat meals. He said the market is increasingly being driven by younger consumers, who are asking not only for safe and high quality food, but for those that are produced sustainably and with animal welfare in mind.
This was echoed in part by Daryl D’Souza, Executive General Manager of SunPork Solutions, who said pork quality would be defined with a focus on and determined by consumer preference. A successful premium pork product must have the attributes that are called for by target customers and must have a marketing strategy that clearly translates these attributes at point of sale.
Boosting piglet health
One of the most stressful stage in a pig’s life is weaning. It is important to help the piglet go through the weaning period successfully for it to perform well in later stages, and to do it without AGPs.
Piglets are now weaned at between 16-28 days of age, when they are still physiologically and immunologically immature. Session speakers presented various strategies to help the piglet develop a healthy gut.
Julian Wiseman, Professor of Animal Production at the University of Nottingham, underscored the importance of having a holistic concept of gut health, noting that feeds and additives should be selected to favor conditions in the gut that create and stabilize the balance between the host, the microflora and the environment.