March 11, 2021
China Animal Health Update (March 2021)
An eFeedLink Exclusive 
By An-ming LI and Ngai Meng CHAN

With temperatures gradually rising in March, China's production challenges shifted from managing the cold winter wave to the day-night temperature differential, and farms moved towards an operating model for springtime. Unlike the same time last year due to COVID-19 impacts, this year's livestock industry quickly returned to normal activity after the Spring Festival.

1. Swine

Following the Spring Festival, China's swine market in March was still weak, with swine prices below RMB30 per kilogram. It is unlikely that demand would pick up in the short term, and with supplies remaining tight, the probability of a large drop or increase in prices is low.

Due to the recent temperature fluctuations, disease outbreaks are common, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs had reported several African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks. As an ASF vaccine has yet to be developed, strengthening biosecurity remains the best disease prevention method, and producers are particularly advised to purchase piglets from proper channels.

According to some analyses, the previous atypical fall in swine prices was due to panic selling from some farms after their pigs fell ill. Uncertainty remains in the recovery of swine production. According to some research, from October last year, effective sow inventory hadactually fallen. Along with high feed prices and the combined threats of blue-ear disease and porcine epidemic diarrhoea, the costs of disease prevention are rising, and the impact on swine prices is predictable.

Since last year, the clinical manifestation of ASF in China has shifted from acute high mortality to weakened virulence. This distinguishing feature is seen in the culling of affected swine –the disease incidence cycle has significantly lengthened from one week to several months. Under the high infection pressure currently, culling remains the most practical disease prevention method, and farms which have comprehensive housing facilities and relatively low housing densities are in a position to best minimise the risk.

2. Poultry

With pre-festive chicken and egg consumption levels having resumed in March, broiler farms were actively restocking, and egg production was on the rise.

As schools and workplaces reopened, egg consumption in canteens increased, but this was offset by lowered household consumption. Coupled with increased rural egg production, it is expected that egg prices would remain at a low level.

Supported by strong feed and swine prices, broiler prices strengthened.The accompanying rise of day-old chick prices further raised production costs. It is expected that broiler prices would weaken in April, and producers should be wary about chasing the market.

Under the wide temperature differential in springtime, birds are under high infection pressure, and are vulnerable to respiratory and enteric diseases. To achieve antibiotic-free production, there is a need to eliminate diseases at their source, and reduce housing density.

3. Government policies

On March 1, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs highlighted 10 typical cases of illegal activity such as the use of the growth promoter clenbuterol and the sales of pork from diseased pigs.

On March 9, the Ministry issued a notice on the further cracking down of illegal activity involving fake ASF vaccines.

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