August 18, 2017
China Animal Health Update (Aug 2017)
An eFeedLink Exclusive
By LI AN-MING and NGOH SENG KEONG
In August, livestock farming has entered its most strenuous season for the year due to the persisting hot climate, which resulted in disrupted metabolism of animals, weakened immunity and higher infection rates.
In the hog sector, prices of commercial hogs have climbed from RMB14.40/500g to RMB15/500g, at a slow and unsteady pace. Hog farms that were poorer equipped are most directly impacted by the hot summer weather, as breeder boars are lacking in sperm, have poorer sperm quality or show low sexual motivation, hence affecting the conceiving rates of sows. This will limit the piglet production in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, mortality rates of conceived sows have increased, whereas lower feed intake of lactating sows has reduced milk production, hence resulting in higher death rates of piglets. Growers are fattening at a slower rate, limiting the weight of the finishing animals.
There were no reports of serious outbreaks of diseases. Vaccinations have helped to keep the infection rates of hog fever, blue ear disease and pseudorabies low. However, there were reports that Erysipelas suis has started to spread in some farms, revealing the fact that preventive measures of some diseases are not in place.
Egg prices jumped from RM6.80/kg in early August to RMB8.80/kg by middle of the month, returning to reasonable price levels as supplies were low under the hot summer climate. In general, facilities of poultry farms are better than those of hog farms, as the cooling and ventilation of the pens during summer is crucial to the health of chickens. Nonetheless, the extremely high temperatures still lifted the disease rates of chickens this summer, with more cases of respiratory illnesses and digestive tract problems discovered.
There are well-developed preventive measures for illnesses like Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease with effective results. However, for diseases such as infectious bronchitis, chronic respiratory diseases and coccidiosis, losses were greater due to high infliction rates. Chicken pox and avian leucocytozoonosis are also common during this time of the year, and timely vaccination and medication are the best defence. The problem of bird flu disease remains the greatest threat to the poultry farming industry due to complex mutations of the pathogens. Prevention is not an easy task. Hence, close monitoring of the virus strain and selecting vaccinations to tackle the subtype of the strain remains the more effective tactic.
Policy wise, central environmental authorities are inspecting farms in the major hog producing provinces of Sichuan, Henan, Shandong and Guangdong. The wave of stringent inspection is expediting the consolidation of the hog industry, as old farms that will mostly be required to update facilities to cut pollution may not be willing or able to make the investment. Hog farms, which are in a low profit, slow development stage, are in crossroads under the tight-fisted pollution checks.
Europe's fipronil-tainted egg issue is causing a big bang in Europe and around the world. It has not spread to China, so far, but should serve as an alarming lesson to the local layer farms. Food safety is the redline that cannot be crossed and low or no antibiotics farming is the way to go. Branding is also the future of the livestock product industry. Even as prices of hog and egg tumbled in previous months, branded pork meat and egg have bucked the trends and remained firm. This is indubitably a strong sign to the market players.
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