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In the USA and Europe this method of rearing pigs has prevailed for decades. But recently pig farming has also grown significantly in China, where it is estimated that approximately half of the pigs that are killed in the world are slaughtered. To produce the quantities of pig meat needed to meet customer demand, contemporary farming focuses on raising pigs as quickly as possible while occupying the least possible space. We will now look at why. There are several different facilities for the different stages in pig breeding, which are described below. Female pigs used for reproduction are kept locked in crates during gestation, which lasts about days around 16 weeks.

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Decentring antibiotics: UK responses to the diseases of intensive pig production (ca. 1925-65)

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Sign up to take part. It is widely assumed that the development of antibiotics had a transformative effect on livestock production by making it possible to keep larger numbers of animals in smaller spaces without them succumbing to disease. Using the health and production of UK pigs, ca.

It draws on evidence from veterinary journals, farming magazines, and government-appointed committees to demonstrate the significance of other methods of countering the diseases that emerged in association with intensive production systems.

Devised by vets, farmers and other experts, these methods predated antibiotics and evolved alongside them. They were rooted in a shared understanding of pig diseases as highly complex phenomena that resulted from interactions between pig bodies and their environments.

Recognition of the roles played by housing, husbandry, nutrition, and pathogens in the production of pig disease suggested multiple possible points of intervention. In situating antibiotics within this landscape of disease prevention and control, this article challenges existing claims about their reception and impact, decentres them from the history of intensive farming, and draws attention to other methods of promoting pig health, which may find renewed applications as we move towards a post-antibiotic era.

Antimicrobial resistance AMR is currently regarded as one of the greatest threats to human health. Growing recognition of its complexity and prevalence has added urgency to the search for global solutions. However, AMR is not a new problem. First recognised in the s, it has inspired ongoing discussions, scientific investigations, and regulatory proposals. Throughout, high-volume antibiotic use in agriculture has attracted particular attention. It is often claimed that antibiotics made intensive farming possible, creating in the process new threats to human health and animal welfare Bud, ; Kirchhelle, a , b.

Antibiotics have been used to promote pig and poultry growth rates, and to prevent and treat diseases that would otherwise run rife on large farms with high stocking densities. Recent regulatory interventions have focussed on restricting their use as growth promoters. This article aims to inform discussions about post-antibiotic futures, and to unsettle assumptions about antibiotic pasts by examining midth century efforts to tackle pig disease in the UK.

The pig industry offers a suitable case for studying antibiotic contributions to livestock health and production because it has a high-health status and is highly intensive. Antibiotics are used widely, although in response to concerns surrounding AMR, consumption halved between and Barton, ; Parrot, Building on previous studies of midth century pig production and veterinary care in the UK Woods, , , Western Europe and North America Jones, ; Finlay, ; Smith-Howard, , ; Saraiva, , this account departs from recent analyses of agricultural antibiotics by examining them from the perspective of historically situated concerns with animal health, rather than present-day concerns with human health.

This account is primarily concerned with the therapeutic use of antibiotics to tackle disease rather than as growth promoters used to enhance production. To some extent this is a false dichotomy, for in improving health through the treatment of disease, antibiotics also improved production. Indeed, this was the key motivation for their therapeutic use.

To complicate matters further, therapy could blur into prophylaxis, for example when apparently healthy livestock were dosed to prevent them from contracting a disease exhibited by other members of the herd. The former were employed in higher doses, in response to specific health conditions rather than as low-dose everyday feed supplements.

Unlike growth promoters they could only be accessed via vets Swann et al. Pigs and piglets in a field R. Roadnight, Britwell Salome, Multiple routes to treatment and prevention were suggested by this multi-causal disease concept: killing germs with antibiotics was just one of many possibilities. This finding challenges the presumed centrality of antibiotics to the post-war expansion of livestock production and consumption. In addition, from a contemporary perspective, it offers some indications for how the sector could maintain pig health in a post-antibiotic world.

It notes the accompanying decline in pig health, the rise of veterinary interest in these animals, and the efforts made by vets and farmers to strengthen pig bodies and reduce their exposure to germs. The outcomes of these efforts reveal that antibiotic therapy was not a precondition for the rise of intensive farming.

The second section traces the expansion of indoor pig production in the immediate post-WWII decades, and the role played by antibiotics in tackling the health problems which emerged. It shows that antibiotics were ineffective in treating certain diseases and left other infections in their wake. These limitations were widely recognised by pig vets and farmers, and reaffirmed their holistic understandings of disease.

The conclusion reflects on the significance of these findings for historical and contemporary understandings of antibiotic use and livestock production.

This is a largely qualitative analysis. While data exists on the size and structure of pig holdings, there are no statistics on therapeutic antibiotic use in the pig sector. Evidence is drawn from articles and conference reports in the veterinary press, most notably the weekly Veterinary Record , which was received by the majority of the UK veterinary profession, and from reports, editorials, and expert commentary in the farming press.

Key publications include the popular Farmer and Stockbreeder , and the more specialist Pig Farming magazine, whose audience ranged from mixed farmers keeping pig herds as a side-line, to elite pedigree breeders and specialist factory farmers.

The minutes of pig veterinary committees set up by various government-appointed bodies are also an important source of information. Given the limited opportunities for interviews and the impossibility of performing ethnographic observations, these sources provide the best available glimpse of how UK vets and farmers conceived of, and managed pig health in the midth century. While they do tend to privilege elite voices and innovative developments, the views and practices of grass roots vets and farmers can be recovered, for example from the correspondence pages of the veterinary and farming press, and from verbatim accounts of discussions on pig health.

In the aftermath of WWI, UK agriculture sank into a deep economic depression, which stimulated certain pioneering farmers to specialise in the indoor production of pigs. These new buildings had concrete floors that removed the need for bedding, and a double row of pens divided by low partitions, with separate, easy-to-clean dunging compartments. Farrowing sows were housed separately in crates, and their piglets removed at weaning. Nourishment was provided by pre-prepared swill, or cereal-based feed that was mixed on the farm or purchased from specialist companies Farmer and Stockbreeder, ; Davidson, These practices were inspired by Danish pig farming, which produced consistently high-quality bacon that many British consumers preferred over the home-grown product Shaw, ; Higgins and Mordhorst, Advocates claimed that pigs produced in this manner were heathier, more comfortable, productive and profitable.

Compared with pigs kept outdoors in huts and pens they required less labour, and because they exercised less and slept more, they consumed less feed. In addition, it was easier to monitor their health, growth and feed intake, to identify the best breeding stock through the performance of their litters, and to calculate the costs and profitability of production using accounting methods devised by the new field of agricultural economics Garrad, ; Davidson, ; Whetham, Factory-style production grew more popular in Britain following the establishment of a Pigs and Bacon Marketing Board.

One of several marketing boards created by the state in response to agricultural depression, it aimed to encourage improvements in the quantity, quality, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness of British bacon by creating a stable market.

British producers were invited to enter into contracts with bacon factories, which committed them to the regular supply of a set number of pigs of a particular weight and grade. The Board was not particularly successful. Not all producers signed up, and those that did often reneged on their contracts when pork prices exceeded those of bacon. Nevertheless, it generated significant profits for larger, more efficient producers who achieved a regular throughput of pigs Davidson, ; Higgins and Mordhorst, Footnote 2.

Although touted as a healthier means of production, experience soon demonstrated that indoor pigs were extremely prone to disease. Losses were especially high in the first six weeks of life. Many of the survivors failed to thrive, causing costly delays in the fattening of pigs to schedule McGuckian, This deterioration in pig health led some producers to seek veterinary aid.

Formerly, owing to the low status and low value of pigs, they had summoned vets only occasionally, for the treatment of valuable pedigree pigs suffering from disease, injury or farrowing problems Allen, , pp.

Emerging health problems demonstrated that this was not the case, however, and provided new opportunities for vets to extend their engagement with pigs. Early investigations were performed by DJ Anthony, author of the first dedicated veterinary textbook on pig diseases Anthony, , and holder of the unusual position of veterinary inspector to the leading Staffordshire bacon manufacturer, Marsh and Baxter.

He was responsible for overseeing the health of indoor pig units established to supply the bacon factory, and for examining pig carcasses after death to determine their fitness for human consumption. Correlating post-mortem appearances with the signs and symptoms of disease in life, he deduced that visibly sick pigs were just the tip of the iceberg: many of their companions were also sick but did not exhibit symptoms, only reductions in their productive capacity.

While unable to pinpoint the microbial causes of disease, he linked the frequency of pneumonia to the bad atmosphere of poorly-ventilated houses. In , their aid was sought by Sandy McGuckian, who was an early convert to intensive fattening. His pigs were experiencing high mortality rates which had not improved despite changes in diet and pig breed. Infection of one pig led to the infection of all. Recovery was slow and partial. In light of the discovery that swine influenza symptoms were caused by a virus and bacteria co-operating to produce a disease more severe than either could cause alone Shope, , and wider findings on the complex microbial ecologies of infectious disease Mendelsohn, ; Amsterdamska, ; Honigsbaum, , Lamont proposed that pig pneumonia infection was caused by influenza virus infection followed by secondary bacterial invasion Lamont, In winter, houses were often intensely cold whereas in summer they were hot and humid, their atmospheres laden with evaporation from urine and manure, which condensed on the roof and then dripped back onto the pigs Shanks, ; McGuckian, In drawing attention to these effects, Shanks challenged the belief that indoor production provided environmental protection to pigs.

This holistic view of pig disease was reinforced by the work of nutritional scientists. According to John Boyd Orr , the major effect of these deficiencies was to undermine disease resistance: the clinical effects of disease depended not only on microbial invasion but also on the food consumed. The Agricultural Research Council, which was established in to oversee publicly funded research on agriculture and animal health Vernon, , sought to advance these various perspectives by appointing three sub-committees on the diseases, husbandry, and nutrition of pigs.

Recognising that these factors related also to pig feeding and housing, they forged connections with the other two committees Agricultural Research Council a , b. Vets and farmers developed various ways of responding to the diseases of indoor production. Although farmers possessed an arsenal of proprietary drugs, which were supplemented from the late s by the entry of the sulphonamides into veterinary practice Bowmer, , disease prevention often took precedence over cure.

The realisation that diseases had multiple interacting causes encouraged efforts both to reduce exposure to pathogens and strengthen pig bodies so that they could better withstand them.

Methods were creative, diverse and wide-ranging. They reveal that it was possible to manage the diseases of intensive production prior to the discovery of penicillin. Though mortality rates were high, vets and farmers were by no means helpless. As revealed below, the methods they devised continued to evolve and find new applications in spite of the appearance of antibiotics, indicating that the importance of these drugs in advancing indoor pig health and production has been routinely overstated.

One popular recommendation was to move pigs outdoors into partially covered outdoor yards or cheap, moveable huts stationed on pasture, woodland or arable land after harvest. Far from a retrograde step, this represented an alternative vision of agricultural modernity which won considerable support during the interwar years. Proponents argued that it helped to prevent anaemia, cure diarrhoea and reduce coughing Fishwick, , Woods, Anthony , p.

Also useful was the addition of covered outdoor yards to pig houses, where pigs could dung and exercise in the fresh air Anthony, ; Price and Ling, - 6 ; Lamont, ; Shanks, There was also the more drastic option of removing air-borne microbes by slaughtering the entire herd and starting afresh with healthy pigs Beckett, The Irish pig producer, Sandy McGuckian, used a combination of these methods.

Healthy pig production systems are sustainable

But are its health and environmental risks finally getting too much? Wed 20 Sep R ene Miller pokes a lavender-frocked leg out of her front door and grimaces. Because as she ambles down the two-lane street, stepping over pebbles and sprouts of grass, the stench takes hold, an odor so noxious that it makes your eyes burn and your nose run.

Pork production in the U. Pigs consume billions of bushels of grain and oilseeds, and provide income for more than 60, pork producers, primarily in the Midwest and North Carolina. Those producers account for roughly two thirds of the U.

Background 30 Mar Many farmers are scared to withdraw antibiotics from production because they fear poor health and performance. A key to success in an antibiotic reduction programme is to assemble a team that includes veterinarians, nutritionists, consultants governmental, academic or industry , building engineer experts, owners, managers and workers. The varied expertise of the team can evaluate potential weaknesses and strengths of the production system, can determine the key factors to be addressed and can provide motivation and perseverance.

A million tons of feces and an unbearable stench: life near industrial pig farms

Industry-specific and extensively researched technical data partially from exclusive partnerships. A paid subscription is required for full access. You need a Premium Account for unlimited access. Additional Information. Show source. Show sources information Show publisher information. Data prior to comes from previous reporting. Livestock production output of agricultural sector in Japan

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Background Sep 25, Therefore, health and welfare of animals is crucial for future sustainable production systems. When working with pig health it is very important to consider the epidemiological triad of disease, where disease is always a consequence of the 3 factors :. There are increasing demands on pig welfare, high quality products, low antimicrobial use, environmentally sustainable systems, openness and traceability in pig production.

On average Americans eat around 49 lbs.

China's traditional hog farming industry is facing challenges posed by African swine fever. However, the disease also accelerates shift of hog production from backyard pigpens to large-scale, standardized and eco-friendly enterprises. Hit by outbreaks of African swine fever, China's pig herd shrank by some 40 percent year on year in recent months, causing pork prices to increase and pushing authorities to take measures to stabilize supply.

Production parameters and pig production cost: temporal evolution 2010–2014

Metrics details. The assessment of the cost of production and the relative weight of the different production parameters is very important in pig farming. The goals of the present work were 1 to describe reliable reference values for production parameters and pig production cost from to , 2 to describe their temporal evolution and 3 to determine the influence of the pig company size on them. Between 61 and pig production companies from Spain were included in this study from to

Understanding the complexity of live pig trade organization is a key factor to predict and control major infectious diseases, such as classical swine fever CSF or African swine fever ASF. Whereas the organization of pig trade has been described in several European countries with indoor commercial production systems, little information is available on this organization in other systems, such as outdoor or small-scale systems. The objective of this study was to describe and compare the spatial and functional organization of live pig trade in different European countries and different production systems. Data on premise characteristics and pig movements between premises were collected during from Bulgaria, France, Italy, and Spain, which swine industry is representative of most of the production systems in Europe i. Trade communities were identified in each country using the Walktrap algorithm. Several descriptive and network metrics were generated at country and community levels.

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In , the total cost for producing a kg pig in Spain was Approximately a The main factors that affect the production indices and, as a consequence, the growing and fattening pigs costs are well known: among them, the genetic strain and the commercial kind of pig produced, the feeding, the conditions of the installations and the health condition stand out. Due to this, it is interesting to have representative information of the Spanish pig industry related to the handling characteristics, the installations and the health of the fattening pigs. So, the main goal of this study was to create a representative database of the pig growing and fattening farms integrated in several Spanish companies. In total, 1,, pigs were controlled, and they correspond to the 1. The data were collected for each batch using a survey model that was divided in four parts: a general information, b installations, c feeding, and d production indices.

Mar 30, - In today's pig production, moving away from preventive antibiotics immunity to various diseases is essential in industrial pig production.

Alongside this rapid growth is the emergence of societal concern about the increasing negative environmental externalities that the industry produces, particularly those related to the disposal of waste and dead animals. Pig producers are said to benefit from negative externalities when they do not bear the full social costs of their business enterprise. Non-internalization of such externalities occurs when pig producers receive payment for their output while not investing in pollution abatement or not making compensatory payments to surrounding communities affected by their production processes. In some cases, producers are able to recycle all nutrients from swine production on-farm through various cropping mechanisms. In other cases, pig production is so large that there is no land to properly dispose of such by-products without some environmental mitigation effort.

Pig production output of the agriculture sector in Japan 2008-2017

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Inside The Pork Industry

Pig farming is the raising and breeding of domestic pigs as livestock , and is a branch of animal husbandry. Pigs are farmed principally for food e. Pigs are amenable to many different styles of farming: intensive commercial units , commercial free range enterprises, or extensive farming being allowed to wander around a village, town or city, or tethered in a simple shelter or kept in a pen outside the owner's house.

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Intensive pig farming , also known as pig factory farming is a subset of pig farming and of Industrial animal agriculture , all of which are types of animal husbandry , in which livestock domestic pigs are raised up to slaughter weight. In this system of pig production, grower pigs are housed indoors in group-housing or straw-lined sheds, whilst pregnant sows are housed in gestation crates or pens and give birth in farrowing crates. The use of gestation crates for pregnant sows has resulted in lower birth production costs; however, this practice has led to more significant animal cruelty. Many of the world's largest producers of pigs US , China , Mexico use gestation crates but some nations and nine US states have banned and removed these crates. The European Union has banned the use of gestation crates after the 4th week of pregnancy.

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