Cam­paign launched

Ev­ery pig keeper wants to cut feed costs, but no-one should be tempted to break the rules, just to save money. LIZ SHANK­LAND re­ports on a new cam­paign to re­mind pig keep­ers of the reg­u­la­tions

Country Smallholding - - Inside this Month -

The price of com­mer­cial feed has rock­eted in re­cent years and find­ing a way to con­tinue pro­duc­ing good, high-wel­fare pork at a price that makes cus­tomers want to keep on buy­ing it is the main goal for many of us.

For lots of small­hold­ers, tak­ing on a few wean­ers is more about rais­ing top-qual­ity meat in an eth­i­cal way than mak­ing money. But we all want to do things as eco­nom­i­cally as pos­si­ble and, when your small­hold­ing ex­per­i­ment grows into a fledg­ling busi­ness and has to at least break even - if not make a profit - the day-to-day up­keep of those pigs be­comes in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

It’s un­der­stand­able that ev­ery­one wants to try and re­duce costs, and feed is, un­doubt­edly, the big­gest reg­u­lar ex­pense when rais­ing live­stock. How­ever, a new cam­paign, led by the An­i­mal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), has been launched to raise aware­ness of the ban on feed­ing kitchen waste - a ma­jor fac­tor in spread­ing no­ti­fi­able dis­eases like Foot and Mouth Dis­ease and African Swine Fever (ASF). ASF is a par­tic­u­lar con­cern at the mo­ment, as the rapid spread of the virus across eastern Europe sug­gests it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore it reaches the United King­dom. There is no vac­cine and no cure, so the ef­fect on our pig pop­u­la­tion and meat trade could be dev­as­tat­ing.

The his­tory be­hind the ban

In 1996, in the wake of the Bovine Spongi­form En­cephalopa­thy (BSE) cri­sis, the prac­tice of feed­ing meat and bone meal to pigs was banned. Just a few years later, fol­low­ing the out­break of Foot and Mouth Dis­ease in 2001, the UK Gov­ern­ment banned the feed­ing of all cater­ing waste. This was in case it might con­tain - or come into contact with – con­tam­i­nated an­i­mal by-prod­ucts. The rul­ing was sub­se­quently ex­tended by the EU to all mem­ber states.

Noth­ing which has been stored or pre­pared in a do­mes­tic or com­mer­cial kitchen can be fed to pigs. The only ex­cep­tion made is for com­pletely ve­gan kitchens. It does not mat­ter whether you are rais­ing pigs for meat or as pets – the ban is ap­plied across the board.

Mar­cus Bates, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Pig As­so­ci­a­tion, said it was vi­tal that pig keep­ers obeyed the law. “We all want to re­cy­cle and min­imise waste to land­fill, but feed­ing kitchen waste to pigs must never be part of that ef­fort,” he stressed. Dr Zoe Davies, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Na­tional Pig As­so­ci­a­tion (NPA), added, “Feed­ing il­le­gal food waste, how­ever harm­less it might seem at the time, is just not worth the risk.” The BPA and NPA, along with other in­ter­ested par­ties, are cur­rently work­ing with the APHA to pro­duce a de­fin­i­tive guide for pig keep­ers to clar­ify what can and can­not be fed.

Other types of food waste

Most peo­ple will have come across pig pro­duc­ers who sup­ple­ment their an­i­mals’ diet with de­liv­er­ies of fruit and veg from

green­gro­cers, whey from cheese mak­ers, bread and left­over dough from bak­eries and su­per­mar­kets, grain used in brew­eries or dis­til­leries, or ap­ple po­mace from cider mak­ers. Th­ese by-prod­ucts of the hu­man food in­dus­try are of­ten de­scribed as ‘co-prod­ucts’, and are per­fectly le­gal to feed – pro­vided both the sup­plier and user com­ply with the reg­is­tra­tion process ( see panel on pre­vi­ous page), and ad­here to rules regarding the man­age­ment of fa­cil­i­ties, equip­ment, qual­ity con­trol, stor­age, trans­port, and record keep­ing.

How­ever, this type of ‘food waste’ is very dif­fer­ent from the kind that gets pro­duced in kitchens ev­ery day – which must never be fed to pigs. Liz Shank­land is a pedi­gree pig breeder and the au­thor of the Haynes Pig Man­ual. She teaches cour­ses in pig keep­ing and small­hold­ing at Hum­ble by Na­ture (www. hum­ble­by­na­

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