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Animal Health

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March 13, 2020
China Animal Health Update (March 2020)

An eFeedLink Exclusive
By An-ming LI and Ngai Meng CHAN

Prevention and control of COVID-19 continued across China in March. While transportation of feed and livestock products had essentially resumed, companies were slow to resume work, and dining in in F&B outlets had not fully opened, leading to sluggish deliveries and consumption of meat and eggs.

1. Swine

The impact of COVID-19 on the swine industry had been relatively small: on one hand live pig inventories had been relatively low; on the other, as the swine production cycle is relatively long, housing pens were mostly empty, and appropriately delaying the time to slaughter could address the impact of the epidemic.

Entering March, with some companies resuming work and market consumption steadily rising, pork consumption also continued to grow. Farms are regaining an interest to sell, and a slight market rebound is appearing. It is expected that the tight supply of live pigs coupled with improving pork consumption should provide stronger support for pig prices going forward. Recent reports of companies like Wen's Group purchasing weaned piglets at high prices are reflective of the current shortage of sows, and the outlook for pig prices is positive.

The impact of African swine fever (ASF) now appears to be small, primarily as a result of enhanced disease prevention and control on farm. Diseases which have frequently occurred in previous years like blue ear disease, porcine circoviral diseases, Mycoplasma pneumonia, foot-and-mouth disease and porcine epidemic diarrhoea now rarely occur. Drug use is minimal, and a number of farms have even stopped the use of some vaccines. Notably, swine herds remain healthy, providing important guidance on swine production intensification going forward.

2. Poultry

Due to the delayed opening of schools and resumption of work, and the continued closure of some live poultry markets, recovery of egg and poultry meat consumption remained slow and provided little support to prices.

Since March, broiler farms have been busy replenishing stock, and prices of day-old chicks have risen. Contract farming of hybrid yellow-feather broilers have also operated as planned. On the premise of the market shortfall of pork, outlook for the broiler market is promising.

Along with the rising temperatures and increasing daylight hours, layer production is gradually moving into a peak production season, and egg supplies are generally sufficient. Currently layer farms are actively clearing their inventories, but with egg prices remaining weak, it is expected that egg prices would fluctuate at a low level in the short term.

The broiler sector has been particularly affected by COVID-19 - release of birds from farms had been obstructed, feed transportation was restricted, meat was been stockpiled in cold storage, and normal market activity had not resume. Recently, with improvements in the epidemic situation picking up, the easing of stockpiles, and the systematic reopening of live poultry markets in various provinces, there are signs of a normal recovery in which broiler prices would steadily rise.

Due to the low broiler inventory levels following the Spring Festival, disease incidence was reduced. But with farms now actively replenishing stocks, various disease reports could begin to appear.

The threat of avian flu persists. As no live vaccine is available for avian flu, and the effects of inactivated vaccines are limited, disinfection and quarantine measures in disease prevention and control are more significant.

For floor-fed broilers, due to the warm and humid weather in spring, the threat of coccidiosis is increased. With the efficacies of coccidiosis vaccines being gradually affirmed, their widespread promotion and adoption is significant in reducing drug use and improving food safety.

3. Government policies

On February 26, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress issued a decision concerning a comprehensive ban on illegal wildlife trade and the elimination of malpractices relating to wildlife consumption to safeguard public health and safety.

On March 3, an intragovernmental notice on the strengthening of biosafety management of animal pathogen microbiology laboratories was issued.


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