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Animal Health

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April 18, 2018

China Animal Health Update (April 2018)

By An-ming LI and Ngai Meng CHAN

An eFeedLink Exclusive

Since April, the livestock industry has entered its most conducive season. With warm temperatures, fresh air and ample light, animal appetite, growth, immunity, and feed conversion are increased.

However, since the Spring Festival, the swine and egg markets have remained on a downtrend, with losses for swine farmers at about RMB 200 per head. Egg consumption is weak, with prices fluctuating at a low level, and margins being thin for producers.

1. Swine

Although environmental measures have cut production capacity, the situation of excess market supply remains unchanged, and pork prices continued their fall. That said, as swine prices are already at an eight-year record low, it is unlikely that they would fall further, and would most likely keep to their low level.

Recently, the incidence of epidemic diarrhoea is high, resulting in many suckling piglets dying from dehydration.  With the preventive effect of current vaccines being uncertain, the pathogenicity of epidemic diarrhoea remains to be studied. In the meantime, unfortunately for swine producers, there are few measures they can take to reduce their losses.

The prevention of blue-ear disease is a current top priority on most swine farms. Current issues relating to sow abortion rate and nursery pig survival rate can often be attributed to blue-ear disease.

2. Poultry

Depressed egg prices in April impacted the desire of producers to replace their flocks, with many taking a cautious stance. It is expected that egg prices would experience a slight increase.

In comparison, with consumption of chicken meat products making a turn for the better, prices rose. Slaughter rates also increased. It is expected that broiler chicken prices would rise into the future.

Overall, disease incidence in chicken fell. This was mainly the result of improvements in the feeding and housing environment, which were beneficial to bird immunity.

However, respiratory diseases remain a sticky issue, and greatly increase the requirement for antibiotics. To reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics in chicken production, it is therefore imperative to deal with the issue of respiratory diseases.

The rising temperature and humidity levels also increase the risk of coccidiosis. It is advised for broiler chicken producers to check on medicated feed additives already used in their formulation, to prevent repeated drug administration which would lead to drug wastage or poisoning.

3. Government policies

With threats of a Sino-US trade war escalating, China has planned to impose a hefty 25% trade tariff on US soybean, which would have a heavy impact on feed costs if it happens.

On January 1, 2018, environmental taxes were officially implemented. The taxes would be declared on a quarterly basis, meaning that April 1 was the first implementation. Farming costs would consequently rise.

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