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January 9, 2020
 
China Animal Health Update (January 2020)

An eFeedLink Exclusive

By An-ming LI and Ngai Meng CHAN
 

With Spring Festival this year being close to New Year's Day, inventories of fattening pigs are at a low level, and pork prices are necessarily high. And while layer production initially increased in January, leading to a temporary weakening of egg prices, egg prices should ultimately be determined by supply and demand. Although there have been no diseases of scale in poultry production lately, disease risk should not be neglected.

1. Swine

As pork prices are close to RMB30 per kilogram, daily consumption of pork is significantly suppressed. Production of cured meats (such as sausages) reached its peak in January, with quantities significantly lower than in 2019. Though the Chinese government has mobilised pork reserves and released imported pork onto the market, the supply-demand gap for live swine is still relatively large, and it is expected that swine prices would remain strong around the Spring Festival period. Prices should fluctuate more strongly in the event of heavy rain or snow, which would affect deliveries.

For swine farms, African swine fever (ASF) presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The government has implemented a slew of policies aimed at swine herd recovery and expansion, and much capital has been pouring into the market. If ASF is effectively controlled, the next swine production cycle, uninterrupted, should arrive soon. Otherwise the risk of ASF to producers would significantly increase, and the consequences of a new epidemic would be unimaginable.

In recent months, due to the current low housing densities, effective disinfection and quarantine on farm, and the closure of some swine farms, some otherwise common swine diseases in the past years have become low in occurrence, including blue ear disease, porcine circoviral disease and porcine epidemic diarrhoea. While closed housing environments in the winter period have possibly led to occurrences of Mycoplasma respiratory infections, the disease situation is not serious.

2. Poultry

In January, egg prices initially fell but supplies have since tightened, demand has lifted, deliveries have increased, and prices have stabilised. However, ahead of the Spring Festival, as schools go on winter vacation, migrant workers return home, and companies close for the holiday, egg prices might tend downwards.

For broiler production, inventories continued their decline, noting that producers had been clearing their inventories end 2019. Slaughterhouses had taken the opportunity to reduce purchase prices, and volumes of processed chicken released onto the market increased. It is expected that prices of white-feather broilers would continue to stay weak. That said, with prices of day-old chicks currently at a low level, there is optimism for the broiler market following the Spring Festival, and purchasing day-old chicks now would be a good option.

The impact of ASF continued to influence the poultry market, and poultry farms are operating at full capacity. With short production cycles and high housing densities, hidden disease risks have increased. January continues to the bird flu season, and Mycoplasma respiratory diseases such as Mycoplasma synoviae are more difficult to manage.

With antimicrobial reduction and elimination becoming a requirement, the government has strengthened meat hygiene. Eliminating pathogens at their source, and boosting bird immunity through improving the housing environment, would provide the necessary security for the future of the poultry industry.

3. Government policies

On December 27, 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued Announcement 246 wherein 561 medicated feed additives across 15 categories had been deregistered.

On January 8, 2020, the Ministry issued Announcement 250 containing a list of drugs and other substances prohibited from use in farm animals.
 


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