Crisis period for pig farmers

Crisis period for pig farmers

While the two-legged population is still preoccupied with the coronavirus, another viral disease has put an end to domestic pig populations: african swine fever (ASF) has been making its way through eastern europe for many years, and has now also arrived in germany. A wild boar was found dead of ASF in brandenburg; this friday, the friedrich loffler institute confirmed a total of 13 positive wild boars. The disease is not contagious for humans or other animals, but it kills most domestic pigs and wild boar.

Countries that do not yet have ASF are doing everything they can to keep it that way. Sudchorea and china impose import bans on german pork for safety’s sake. With exports, market prices have also collapsed. The association of producer groups (VEZG) set the price per kilogram of slaughter weight down 20 cents. The recommended price per piglet has been reduced by twelve euros to 27 euros – the peak price this year was around 80 euros. "At the moment, it’s a "pay-as-you-go" business, explains pig breeder johannes dorfler from waldau. It was only on friday morning that he received a call from a customer. He has no place for new piglets, because he can not sell his fattening pigs at the moment.

And so the pigs stand in the barns of the farmers, become coarser and heavier, and thus the sale becomes more and more difficult. "No one wants to do it anymore", dorfler explains. He had already heard of a company that slaughters half of its breeding sows. Regarding the drop in prices, he says: "I can’t understand it. Our pig herds are healthy, there is nothing contaminated."

All animals must be culled

"In the event of an infection, all the pigs on the farm had to be culled", explains stefan gedecke, specialist veterinarian for pigs from wonsees. As "culls" is the term used to describe the killing of livestock in order to prevent or contain animal diseases. The ASF can be recognized, for example, by the fact that the sows behave weakly and miscarriages occur more frequently. "The regular case is fever, ASP can however also in under-temperature aubern ", explains gedecke.

The course of the disease lasts about four to ten days. Bleeding from internal organs can often be seen in the feces and urine. All body secretions are infectious. The disease is spread, for example, when a wild boar urinates and a hiker steps into it, or when a fox eats a dead wild boar and carries the pathogen in its fur. Besides there is still something covered the "salami bread theory" cites.

While in germany an infected pig herd must be killed immediately and the carcasses disposed of, in some eastern european countries the pigs are still quickly driven to the slaughterhouse. Raw sausage made from these animals is not dangerous for humans, but a piece of salami bread thrown away on a long-distance trip can also bring ASF into distant wild boar populations, according to the expert veterinarian.

According to him, the only way out is regionalization. By this he means that the disease must be contained at the outbreak site. In the czech republic, for example, the spread of ASF has been prevented by strict zoning, game-proof fencing and military deployment. Since february 2019, the country is once again considered "disease-free". The "fencing, that was set up in brandenburg, no keiler hold up, bemangelt the specialist veterinarian.

Besides a potential outbreak on their own farms, ASF is causing other concerns for farmers. Heiko kaiser, a fattening pig farmer from appenberg, speaks of the decline of an entire industry. Although the value chain of his farm, from fodder cultivation to slaughtering, is located in the region, he is also feeling the effects of the significant drop in prices.

If an infected wild boar was found and a restricted zone was declared, it was forbidden to enter, not only for leisure seekers but also for farmers. They could no longer cultivate their fields and also suffered economic losses.

Hygiene, guard dogs and double fencing to combat assp

As soon as ben berthold starts to move the fence, the first pigs start to run in. The way to the sunflower field is clear. The animals are not only after the protein-rich seeds and the ground fodder, but also everything in between, from oats to field mice. We have been working on the concept of the right feed for pasture pigs.

For berthold and his wife johanna, each pig is allowed to bounce around the pasture for 14 to 18 months before it makes its way to the small family slaughterhouse in lanzendorf. 150 pigs graze on nine hectares near eggenreuth. The pig farmer doesn’t even want to imagine how much stress it would be for the animals, which are used to being free, to suddenly find themselves in a barn overnight. If swine fever should come closer, he does not want to rule it out, but he is convinced that the risk of infection for his grazing pigs is not significantly higher than that of barn pigs.

The disease is caused by a virus that is transmitted through bodily fluids, especially through feces, urine or the flesh of animals. It is not possible to catch the infection through the air. Therefore, berthold must be just as careful as conventional farmers to ensure that he does not accidentally carry infected bodily secretions from wild boars onto the pasture. Every time ben and johanna enter the flat, they disinfect their shoes or put on rubber boots that stay on the land. If you go to the pasture with a tractor or hanger, the vehicles are thoroughly disinfected beforehand.

According to the specifications, pig pastures must be double-fenced. In eggenreuth, both fences have electric wires and the prescribed distance of at least two meters. Often, however, there are ten meters between them. For in this space linda and lumi, two pyrenean mountain dogs, patrol the herd of pigs. This form of herd protection is not primarily about the wolf, but primarily about wild boar. "We don’t want wild boars to cross into our stock", explains ben berthold.Alo

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