Pig health project under way

An innovative 300,000 project to bring together pig farmers across Yorkshire and the Humber to improve the health of pigs has just got under way.

It is jointly funded by BPEX and Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency, using funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

RDPE will fund up to 70% of the cost of the first phase of the project, which will take about a year to complete.

The initiative will be producer-driven with the twin aims of eradicating specific endemic diseases and improving overall health.

BPEX Veterinary Advisor Derek Armstrong said: "One of the first steps will be for farmers and vets to take a long, hard, honest look at current health status on all pig farms. Healthy pigs grow faster and more efficiently and improving pig health is key to a healthy pig industry.

"It will be the pig farmers who will identify the priorities to improve the health of pigs. A successful project could be worth as much as 8 a pig, which, for the whole of Yorkshire, could be as much as 16m a year.

"There is real potential for the regional elimination of disease, but it has to be driven by the producers united we can succeed, but divided it is likely we will fail.

"A good example of this was the Aujeszky's Disease eradication. That was driven by producers and was extremely successful."

The first year will be spent building commitment from the producers in the region, mapping the health status and location of pig units and putting together the necessary protocols. The second stage will be about putting into action the plans for health improvement, drawn up by the farmers and vets in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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