THE BRITISH Pig Executive launched their nationwide scheme to provide producers with valuable point-of-slaughter pig health feedback in early July.
Most English pig producers have since joined the scheme and are starting to receive a wide range of information on the health of their stock.
Vets are confident that this additional pig health information will provide finishers with a much better health profile of their herd and help to flag up early preventative action.
Although health scores are routinely collected for all pigs slaughtered, only those pig-keepers who have joined the scheme have access to this information.
Carcass scoring is carried out by abattoir-based vets, which includes a wide range of health checks. These include enzootic pneumonia, pleurisy, lung lesions, dermatitis, peritonitis and tail biting.
Additional tests may be added as the scheme develops, including a library of blood samples, so herds can undertake screening for various conditions.
The health-scoring system is based upon a similar BPEX-funded Scottish scheme that has been running for two years, with a long-term aim of eventually stamping out some diseases on a regional basis.
Each carcass is subject to visual and some manual inspection. The indication of pathological lesions is then computer recorded and the percentage of affected pigs established.
The numbers of affected animals acknowledged on herd by herd basis can then be used to interpret the significance of these health problems.
The estimated total cost of £600 per producer for the three year period has been reduced to just £100 thanks to sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies.
Andrew Knowles at BPEX says: “A lot of work has gone into setting up this scheme and it has been gratifying to see how quickly pig-keepers have joined.”