British Pig Fair Report

Jim Long and Sarah Long

Last week my wife Sarah and I travelled to Great Britain and attended the British Pig Fair, held every two years in Stoneleigh, England, near Coventry.

To be clear we did not attend the Royal Wedding (not invited).

Our Observations:

  • Prior to the Fair, visited one of the Genesus’s nucleuses in England, Bridgehouse Farm owned by the Thompson family. The Nucleus has purebred registered Durocs and Yorkshires.  This farm was a former PIC Terminal sire nucleus that was depopulated and has been repopulated with High Health Genetics from Genesus Canada.

 

  • It was interesting at Bridgehouse Nucelus as the practice is in England no pigs are castrated but also that no pigs had been tail docked. First time we ever saw a herd not tail docked.  The reason is, you have to prove in the English rules that you need to tail dock before you can.  So far, no tail biting has been detected so no tail docking allowed.  Animal welfare rules just keep coming, it appears Genesus’s calm temperament is evident in behavior so far re tail docking.

 

  • The British Pig Fair had very good weather (thankfully we had a tent exhibit), sunny warm the first day, second cooler but no rain. Our estimate is that most of the British Swine Industry showed up.  We talked to lots of people, as many know us from the twelve years we have been writing on the British based The Pig Site.

 

  • It was the first exhibit for Genesus UK, Genesus distributers in Great Britain. We have been fortunate to have strong market penetration the last two years with Genesus AI from the Glen Marshal AI Center.  Great Britain has little swine genetic competition.  There are three players: PIC, Rattlerow and JSR.  It was gratifying to hear customers telling us Genesus was giving them more pigs, faster growth (+8-10 kg average), competitive grades and easier pigs to handle.

 

  • The Great Britain swine industry must not castrate, all sows in groups. Of the 400,000 sows in country, 40% or 180,000 are outside where they field farrow.  Most pigs are finished inside, but many, in all straw barns.

Sow Farrowing Hut at the British Pig Fair


 

  • The industry is continually under pressure re animal welfare protocols i.e. tail docking, antibiotic use. The downside for producers is Pork can be imported from countries without the same rules consequently over 50% of Pork is imported.

 

  • Currently prices of Pigs are 1.48 pounds per kilogram (90¢ U.S lean per pound). The industry has been profitable the last two years and there is investment ongoing to upgrade facilities.

 

  • Brexit. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has the industry not sure where the future lies. Will the border be restricted for imports?  No change?  Point is – nobody knows.

 

  • Genesus is now the largest producer of registered purebred pigs in Great Britain. The goal is to supply Great Britain, Europe and Africa with superior genetics.

 

While in Europe we visited with our Genesus distributor in Germany, Genesus Deutschland.  As in Great Britain tail docking is becoming a big subject in Germany.  There is discussion it could be totally banned in Germany in the not so distant future.  Fortunately our German colleagues had initiated a trial 1.5 years ago with a University, Packer and Research team to track Genesus Duroc on Genesus Deutschland female offspring to see the behavioral pattern.  So far the first two groups have come to market with no tail docking and no issue.  It will be interesting what develops in future, as we all know some genetics will have a terrible tail biting issue if there is no tail docking.

Also while in Europe we visited with Danish people and got an update on the travails of Danbred and the Danish Swine Genetic saga. Some points:

  • We understand over 25 lawsuits have been initiated in Denmark over the split of producers to two genetic groups.

  • We are told that Danish Swine Genetics the breakaway group from Danbred has about 42% of the former Danbred group. At this point we understand Danish Swine Genetics has not formed a company, has no formal genetic plan and is at this point unable to register any of their pigs as purebred.  Danbred controls the official registration herd book.

 

  • We understand Danish Swine Genetics have had boars unable to leave French AI quarantines to enter French AI stud due to the fact they have no registration papers. They have been slaughtered.

 

  • It’s a civil war that we expect Danbred with more resources, a genetic program, established marketing and continual offer to the members of Danish Swine Genetics (22) to come back to the Danbred fold. Will prevail in the end as we expect slippage in the Danish Genetics group numbers.
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This post was written by Genesus