“Straw works best against tail biting in pigs”

Well, who would have guessed it!

This is, genuinely, the result of a study at the “Research Farm” at Futterkamp in northern Germany and reported in the Dutch journal “Boerderij”. The farm is doing various  trials how to find the silver bullet in order to control tail biting. Many have focussed on  nutrition to reduce the risk of tail biting such as increasing the amount of crude fibre to about 8%. The idea behind this is that a sense of satiety will calm the pigs and make them less aggressive. You don’t feel like picking a fight after a big meal do you?

But what they found was that giving pigs straw in their pen was the most cost effective way to reduce tail biting better than providing “enrichment material” or more space. Supplying straw for the pigs from the beginning of the grower phase until late finishing does reduce the risk though ‘accidents’ can still happen.

Tails are important to pigs. They act as signalers of mood to other pigs and humans. Harm Krusehe, manager of the farm, knows this. He is quoted as saying:

In case there’s a nice curl in the tail, and the pigs wave with it, the animals are doing well. Should the tail hang, I’m getting worried something might happen – or perhaps has already happened.

I wish my German was as good as good as his English, but you get the point. Every stockman knows that a straight tail on a pig is a sign of an unhappy pig. As someone once said:

Aslan the Great gave me this tail and no one, repeat, no one, touches the tail. Period, exclamation mark!

In fact Krusehe’s interest is financial.  Tail-docking is time-consuming and hence expensive. It is especially expensive if you use an anesthetic – most industrial farmers do not – or the stump becomes infected and requires antibiotics. Which brings me to the photograph that accompanied the article in “Boerderij”.  It was taken by Henk Riswick and, I assume, shows an interior shot  of the research farm at Futterkamp .

Here it is:

futtercamp

And here are things to notice. Eight pigs crammed into  a grey painted pen of about 3 metres by 3 metres with walls high enough that they can’t see out. The sound of nearby pigs that they cannot see will be stressful. The lack of visual stimulus will lead to boredom. The small size of the pen means that submissive pigs cannot escape persecution by dominant pigs.

I think that five of pigs are eating/ignoring the stockman, two are looking up at him, and the one in the corner is sick. Any pig which is not doing what other pigs are doing, particularly lying, isolated, when food is available, is a sick pig.

The size of the pigs is difficult to estimate but I guess at about 80kg which, for us, is about slaughter weight. The seven tails on show have all been docked.

Notice too the slatted floor which is designed to allow the pig shit to drop through to the slurry pit below. Notice that it doesn’t work. The slats are covered in shit. Pressure washing them is time-consuming/expensive. The pigs are forced to lie in their own shit – a process that they will find distressing. No nice dry bedding for these poor animals.

Notice the pig closest to the camera. It has shit all down it’s flank where it has been lying on it’s side. Notice the line of shit along the wall at flank height. The pen at Grey Sage Towers would get scrubbed down if the walls were that dirty.

So I looked at the picture and thought that these pigs were the control group. These were the pigs who didn’t get warm, clean, dry straw to root around in and build nests to sleep in. And I looked at the stockman. And I looked at the feed that he was flinging down on that shit-covered floor. And I realised that it was chopped straw. And I realised that, translating from the German, “Supplying straw for the pigs from the beginning of the grower phase until ……..” didn’t mean “Supplying straw for the pigs to sleep on/stay clean”. It meant feeding them chopped straw so they would feel less hungry.

So this is the answer that they have found to tail-biting.  You do nothing to improve the living conditions of the pigs. You still have stressed/bored pigs prone to tail biting, but you fill them up with a (cheap) agricultural waste product which is excellent for bedding but has no nutritional value beyond providing fibre.

15,000-pig development approved in Northern Ireland

Thank you PW Reporters on November 23, 2016

The go-ahead has been given for a 15,000-pig development in Northern Ireland, ending months of high profile opposition to the project.

The farmer concerned, Derek Hall, had originally wanted to build a unit for 30,000 pigs near Newtownabbey but revised the plan to half that size, an adjustment which has now gained planning permission from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Planning Committee. Nine councillors voted in favour and two opposed the development.

Residents had objected to the project saying it would produce too much slurry and smell, while 200,000 signed an online petition against the development.

Celebrities, including Queen guitarist and animal welfare campaigner, Brian May, and actors Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove, also opposed the unit.

Ulster Unionist councillor, Roderick Swann, backed the proposal, however, commenting:

I’m a farmer myself who supports the agri-industry and I was quite satisfied that all the necessary welfare issues were addressed.

I’m a farmer myself.  That says it all. He cannot conceive of any “welfare issues” involved in cramming 15,000 pigs into a factory farm to maximise his profit. He “supports the agri-industry”.  The same agri-industry that will be supplying the feed to all those pigs and the drugs necessary to keep them alive, in unhygienic conditions, for their short miserable lives.

He goes on to comment;

But these people are all farm quality assured, the pigs are well looked after. To get a quality assurance accreditation is very tight.

“Farm quality assured” is a joke. With the successful dismantling of state inspection schemes, the industry standard Red Tractor Scheme has cut back on the number of inspection visits to once a year, and those are pre-announced. To get a quality assurance accreditation costs about £300 a year last time I looked.

 

 

 

Bedfordia Farms wins 2016 Producer of the Year award

One of the marvelous things about the factory farming industry is that they regularly get together for a slap up dinner and award each other “Awards”. It’s a great boost to morale when they feel so misunderstood by the public who are (slowly) becoming more aware of the systematic cruelty involve in producing factory farmed meat. They don’t allow public access to their dark, satanic, sheds. They can point to their “Awards” and label their products as “Award-winning” and open the farm on Farm Sunday so little children can meet a single sow and her cute little piglets nestled in deep straw.

The video images of the inside of one of Bedfordia Farm’s sheds, taken by Compassion in World Farming, has mysteriously disappeared, but isn’t it heartwarming to know that they’ve been “awarded” Producer of the Year.

 

 

 

Neonicotinoid insecticides can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives

Yet more damning evidence that neonics damage bees.  In this case scientists, in Switzerland, have demonstrated that thiamethoxam and  clothianidin shorten the lives of drones and decrease their sperm quantity and viability.

This extract is taken from the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, Volume 283, issue 1835.

Abstract

There is clear evidence for sublethal effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on non-target ecosystem service-providing insects. However, their possible impact on male insect reproduction is currently unknown, despite the key role of sex. Here, we show that two neonicotinoids (4.5 ppb thiamethoxam and 1.5 ppb clothianidin) significantly reduce the reproductive capacity of male honeybees (drones), Apis mellifera. Drones were obtained from colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticides or controls, and subsequently maintained in laboratory cages until they reached sexual maturity. While no significant effects were observed for male teneral (newly emerged adult) body mass and sperm quantity, the data clearly showed reduced drone lifespan, as well as reduced sperm viability (percentage living versus dead) and living sperm quantity by 39%. Our results demonstrate for the first time that neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect male insect reproductive capacity, and provide a possible mechanistic explanation for managed honeybee queen failure and wild insect pollinator decline. The widespread prophylactic use of neonicotinoids may have previously overlooked inadvertent contraceptive effects on non-target insects, thereby limiting conservation efforts.

Resistance to colistin – a last-resort antibiotic for humans

Colistin belongs to the family of polymyxins. These are cationic polypeptides, with broad-spectrum activity against Gram negative bacteria, including most species of the family Enterobacteriaceae. The two polymyxins currently in clinical use are polymyxin B and polymyxin E (colistin), which differ only by one amino acid from each other and have virtually comparable biological activity. Colistin is our last defence against multi-resistant bacteria, especially those resistant to carbapenem antibiotics. The potential damaging effect that the drug can have on patients’ kidneys, means that it is only used where doctors have no better options. However, the global AMR crisis means that doctors are increasingly forced to use colistin even though they would prefer not to.

All previously reported polymyxin resistance mechanisms are have been chromosomally mediated, and colistin resistance is not usually transferable between strains

Until now, the polymyxins have been one of the last classes of antibiotics in which resistance is not known to spread from cell to cell (ie, plasmid mediated).

During a routine surveillance project on antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli taken from food animals in China, a major increase of colistin resistance was observed. When an E coli strain, SHP45, possessing colistin resistance that could be transferred to another strain, was isolated from a pig it was found to be a plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism, designated mcr-1.

The researchers provided evidence for the spread of mcr-1 from the veterinary sector to human beings. They report finding the gene in 166 of 804 pigs at slaughter across four provinces, and from pork and chicken sold in 30 open markets and 27 supermarkets in Guangzhou between 2011 and 2014.

It was also found in 1 per cent of 1,322 samples they tested from hospital patients in China, which the researchers called a relatively low proportion, but the  plasmid had spread to a range of bacterial strains and species, including E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, making them resistant to colistin too.

The most plausible explanation for the wide occurrence of this newly discovered resistance gene in animals and meat is that bacteria with it have been selected by farmers giving colistin to their animals. It seems clear that this use in agriculture has led to humans getting infections caused by resistant bacteria.

We need to take urgent steps to make sure that the use of antibiotics in animals that are important for human use, are restricted and where necessary banned.

 

 

Liu Y, Wang Y, Walsh TR, et al., Emergence of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism MCR-1 in animals and human beings in China: a microbiological and molecular biological study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2015, Published Online, In Press Corrected Proof, doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00424-7.

http://amr review.org/sites/default/files/Antimicrobials%20in%20agriculture%20and%20the%20environment%20-%20Reducing%20unnecessary%20use%20and%20waste.pdf

“Antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment: reducing unnecessary use and waste”. The review on antimicrobial resistance chaired by Jim O’neill December 2015

Six European countries still flouting sow stall ban

If you think the British Pig Industry has low welfare standards then pity pigs in six European countries still flouting sow stall ban 16 years after they were phased out in Britian.

At last the news that the final six countries failing to comply with the European Union (EU) partial sow stall ban are being brought to account by the European Commission.

The Commission has sent final legal warning letters to Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and France, for failing to enforce the ban after an initial warning in February 2013.

If not compliant within two months, the Commission may refer the countries to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has the authority to enforce the ban and impose fines if not adhered to. The Commission has also sent initial warning letters to Slovenia and Finland.

The EU sow stall ban prohibits the use of sow stalls except for the first four weeks in a sow’s pregnancy. The ban came in to force in January 2013 after an eleven year phase-out period.

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming, says,

After eleven years to prepare for this transition, it is simply inexcusable that six countries are still confining sows illegally and inhumanely in stalls. It is good to see significant action being taken against these countries.

Sow stalls restrict pregnant pigs to steel cages so narrow that they cannot turn around or exhibit important natural behaviours such as rooting, foraging and exploring. Sows kept in this way will often bite the bars through frustration and boredom. The Farrowing Crate, however is one of factory farming’s hidden horrors – and one that most British sows are still subjected to twice a year

The Farrowing Crate is a small metal cage in which pregnant sows are imprisoned for weeks on end, usually from a week before giving birth until their piglets are weaned three to four weeks later. She will be subjected to this roughly twice a year. The metal frame of the crate is just centimetres bigger than the sow’s body and severely restricts her movements. She is completely unable to turn around, can scarcely take a step forward or backward and frequently rubs against the bars when standing up and lying down. Beside her cage is a “creep” area – usually around 50-100cm x 2m in size – for her piglets. The flooring is hard concrete and some form of heating, either mats or more commonly heatlamps, is used as a substitute for the warmth of their mother’s body. The piglets are free to reach the sow’s teats to suckle but she is prevented from moving close to them and cleaning them by the bars of the cage.

When not in the crate, sows used for breeding are kept separate from those used for meat, most commonly in concrete pens. Sows have a pregnancy lasting around four months and are usually reimpregnated within a week of their piglets being weaned, approximately a month after they were born. This means they are forced into the farrowing crate for 28-35 days every five months until, usually at around five years old (or often earlier), they are no longer commercially productive and are sent for slaughter.

The farrowing crate violates at least one of the Five Freedoms (freedom to express normal behaviour). Animal welfare experts also believe it “threatens” two other Freedoms (freedom from discomfort and freedom from fear and distress) (CABI 2010). The constraint of the farrowing crate prevents the sow from fulfilling any of her natural maternal instincts. Studies of wild or semi-wild pigs show that sows actually become more active before giving birth, often walking many kilometres to find a suitable nest site (Cronin et al, 1995; Biensen et al, 1996). They would naturally seek out a site in a covered area which is isolated from the rest of the herd (Jarvis et al,1997). They then prepare a nest of twigs or leaves before giving birth.

The standard practice of confining sows in the farrowing crate a week before they give birth not only restrains them at a time of increased restlessness but also denies them the privacy they desire by forcing them into close proximity with other sows. Building a nest has been described as “the single, strongest instinct for a sow” (Per Jensen, quoted on Bowman website) and research indicates a very strong desire for sows to obtain nesting materials (Arey, 1992). Even when they have nothing but a hard floor, sows still attempt to build a nest, pawing at the floor, nuzzling the bars and attempting to turn around.

How this “farmer” escaped prison I do not understand!

A farmer has been banned from involvement in poultry businesses for five years following the death of more than 6,000 birds at one of his broiler farms. Paul Flatman, 65, who trades from Packards Lane, Wormingford, Essex, was also fined £12,500, ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and handed a suspended jail sentence. Earlier this year, Mr Flatman admitted six charges under the Animal Welfare Act. Essex Trading Standards brought the prosecution after a vet visited Hawksmill Farm, Great Leighs, on 20 August 2012 following an anonymous tip-off.

An earlier hearing was told that she arrived to find a digger moving dead birds and described a horrendous smell.

She estimated about 6,600 birds had perished, but determining an exact number was difficult because of the “scale of putrefaction”.

Dead chickens in cruelty case

Dead birds were piled up at the farm, with surviving animals suffering from exhaustion. The vet also said broilers had been allowed to grow too heavy, were too densely stocked and ventilation was inadequate. Poor-quality litter compounded the problems.

Trading Standards said advice offered following the death of 18,000 birds in 2011, also from heatstroke, had not been heeded.

So, this guy has form.  In 2011 he let 18,000 birds die of neglect/heatstroke and all that happened to him was that he was “offered advice”.  No fine, no prison, and most importantly, no ban on him ever keeping livestock again.  It takes the deaths of a further 6000ish birds to trigger a prosecution. Unbelievable ! 

Deborah Alexander, the investigating veterinary officer from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), said: “This tragic event resulted in many thousands of birds dying due to heat stress and could have been avoided.”

Apparently the prime cause was “computer failure”.  This is what comes of relying on computerised systems rather than stockmanship and common humanity.

Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council lead member for Trading Standards, added: “This case shows that we will not tolerate livestock being kept in these kinds of conditions.”

Bollocks.  This case shows that Trading Standards did nothing the first time round!

Mr Flatman’s ban, under section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act, prevents him from being involved in the poultry trade for five years.

2 Sisters Food Group has said it will remove all antibiotics critical to human health.

UK meat and poultry supplier 2 Sisters Food Group has committed to removing all antibiotics, prioritised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as critically important to human health, from its poultry production.

The move will help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotic use for people by cutting down the risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can spread to humans and make standard treatments of diseases ineffective.

Antibiotics are used in poultry production to treat and prevent infectious diseases and safeguard poultry welfare.

Michelle Waterman, 2 Sisters’ Group agriculture director said:

Our plan is also about replacing antibiotic use with other interventions wherever possible.

At the same time, 2 Sisters said it would establish two trial farms, fully supervised by company veterinary surgeons and independent agricultural experts. The farms will lead practical research to help develop and roll out on-farm techniques, and health and management practices to reduce the industry’s need for antibiotics in the future.

Ranjit Singh, chief executive of 2 Sister Food Group said:

We are committed to ensure that we use all medicines, including antibiotics, in a responsible manner across the farms that supply us, and lead the industry in delivering a strategy which protects both animal and human interests, now and in the future.As a responsible and forward thinking organisation, we are keen to lead on this increasingly important issue and take a stand which we feel is pragmatic and sensible.”

Result !!!

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Erection of a 2,500 breeding sow pig rearing unit with grain store, feed mill, feed hoppers, mess block, water treatment buildings together with storage buildings feeding an associated anaerobic digestion facility, service building, digestate and methane gas storage tanks supplying an electricity generation facility and incorporating a visitor centre, 4 agriculture workers dwellings with garaging, strategic landscaping, including the formation of bunds, a surface water attenuation pond, and rainwater retention area with site parking facilities, weighbridges, security fencing and associated infrastructure, Land off Uttoxeter Road, Foston for Midland Pig Producers

Application Code: CW9/0311/174

With reference to your representation in respect of the above planning application, I write to inform you that on 17 March 2015 the applicant withdrew their application.

Yours faithfully,

Planning Control

Bayer loses pesticide bee harm court case

Thank you Philip Case of Farmers Weekly

German agrochemical giant Bayer CropScience has lost its attempt to prevent German Friends of the Earth, the Association for the Environment and Natural Germany (Bund), from making claims its neonicotinoid thiacloprid harms bees.

The dispute centred around claims by Bund in a German publication that two pesticides produced by Bayer – Calypso and Lizetan Ornamental Plant Spray – that contain the active ingredient thiacloprid were harmful to bees.

Both products are officially approved and classified as non-hazardous to bees. However, Bund claimed it was “misleading” for Bayer to state on the packaging of these two products that they were “bee friendly” and “bee safe”.

Bayer took out an injunction against Bund, in a bid to prevent the group from making such accusations about its products.

However, a judge at Dusseldorf Regional Court ruled on Wednesday (11 March) that Bund had a right to voice its concerns. He reversed Bayer’s injunction and said Bund’s statements were covered by freedom of expression, rather than on the science of the claims. A written summary of the judge’s ruling will be published in German at a later date.

Green campaigners have voiced serious concerns about the impact of some of Bayer’s products on bees, including those containing the neonicotinoid thiacloprid, which is used by farmers and gardeners in the UK.

Thiacloprid is used on crops in the UK such as oilseed rape (canola) and apples and it is sold to the public in garden bug-killing products.

Bayer said it was “disappointed” by the judge’s decision and would wait to receive the written judgment before deciding whether to challenge the decision.

A Bayer spokesman said:

Bayer CropScience regrets the decision by the Dusseldorf Regional Court taken on Wednesday March 11 to revoke the injunction previously imposed against Bund and in favour of Bayer.

Even though the court once again pointed out that the Bayer products had officially been classified as ‘not harmful for bees’ and were labelled as such in accordance with binding legal regulations, the court considered the allegations of Bund to be a free expression of opinion, which deserved special protection.

 Bayer CropScience will wait for the written grounds for the judgment and subsequently consider potential further steps. Bayer CropScience had filed the injunction with the argument that the Bund publications on the Bayer garden products Calypso and Lizetan Ornamental Plant Spray are incorrect.Both products have been thoroughly tested both by Bayer and by the state regulatory authority, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).They underwent an in-depth evaluation and as a consequence were classified as not harmful for bees.

Three other neonicotinoid pesticides linked to a decline in bee health, including the Bayer Cd imidacloprid, are currently subject to a two-year temporary ban across the EU.

“…….have been thoroughly tested both by Bayer and by the state regulatory authority,”  The problem is that the public no longer believe ‘state regulatory authorities’ when the state concerned has sold off the scientific research to private corporations like Crapita.