Overcrowding on farms behind mystery of China´s floating pigs


41ZpbCRQlrL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU03_Pork Producers2011081000301Overcrowding on farms behind mystery of China’s floating pigs

http://uk.reuters. com/article/ 2013/04/24/ us-china- farming-pigs- idUKBRE93N1C7201 30424

http://uk.reuters. com/article/ 2013/04/24/ us-china- farming-pigs- idUKBRE93N1C7201 30424

Credit: Reuters

By Adam Jourdan

JIAXING, China | Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:36pm BST

JIAXING, China (Reuters) – Overcrowding on farms around Shanghai was the underlying factor that led to 16,000 dead pigs floating down the Huangpu river into China’s affluent financial centre, according to an analysis of official documents and interviews with farmers in the region.

The appearance last month of carcasses of rotting hogs in a river that supplies tap water to the eastern Chinese city was a morbid reminder of the pressures facing China’s mostly small-scale farmers as the country grapples with food safety scares, environmental pressures and, most recently, a bird flu outbreak.

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Until now the main reason for Shanghai’s startling outbreak of dead hogs appeared to have been a local government crackdown on criminal gangs that had been selling abandoned carcasses as meat on the black market, meaning fewer ended up in the river.

But a deeper look suggests that an unsustainable level of overcrowding — a key factor in the spread of disease and death rates — was the critical issue. Experts warn that if conditions are not improved the incident may not have been a one-off.

„We can’t let things go on the way they are or it won’t just be the 10,000 or so pigs in the river this year, we’ll see more in the coming years,“ said Xu Yafeng, CEO of NX28, a specialist web platform for agricultural information.

In an acknowledgement of the problem, officials launched a plan late last year to slash the number of pigs in the region — a drive that may have made things worse in the short-term by cutting the amount of land available for farming before there was a corresponding reduction in livestock.

The number of pigs in Jiaxing, a city just to the west of Shanghai identified as the main source of the dead pigs, more than doubled over the last two decades. It hit 7.5 million in 2012, even as the local government cut the amount of land available for farmers.

This overcrowding of pigs led to the city-wide plan to cut hog numbers to below 2 million within just two years.

“ the winter to this spring, the trend of dead pigs has been particularly serious,“ Wang Xianjun, a local environmental official, told the Jiaxing Daily in March.

„We keep digging more pits to deal with the dead pigs, but if it carries on like this, they won’t be able to take them.“

Wang’s words proved prophetic. Just four days later, the first reports emerged of pigs drifting down the Huangpu.

Local officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

FARMING BOOM

China’s booming demand for meat has the potential to create ever more crowded farms, ripe for the spread of disease. Pork demand is expected to grow around 20 percent from 2012 levels to 60 million tons by 2020, according to a recent Rabobank report.

The number of small hog farmers around Jiaxing climbed over the last few years as pork prices surged, resulting in far too many pigs for the land available.

Data from a Nanhu district government document in September shows in 2011 the key hog farming town of Xinfeng had a level of 15.3 pigs per mu (667 sq meters), three times higher than the level of five hogs per mu local officials recommended in August 2012. The nearby village of Fengqiao had levels of 10 hog per mu.

„Disease and mortality rates among the pigs have got worse every year,“ said one woman in the farming area of Henggang on the outskirts of Jiaxing. „In some areas this year mortality rates were probably as high as 30 percent.“

The normal mortality rate for pigs in China is around 3 to 5 percent, Fang Yan, the deputy head of the rural department of China’s state planning bureau, told a news conference in Beijing.

The high density of pig farms, and the poor farm management that is often associated with small-scale farming operations, are key risk factors for porcine circovirus — a common disease among pigs that is the most likely killer of the floating hogs — according to many academic and scientific papers.

Since 2012, however, oversupply has driven pork prices down sharply. Between the end of January and mid-March this year, prices tumbled 16.2 percent.

This had a further impact on disease and mortality rates –when prices are weak, farmers tend to take less care of their livestock, said Tao Shi, a Shanghai-based expert on hog farming.

Increasingly aware of the urgency of the issue, the Jiaxing government launched its plan last September to reduce the number of hogs by two-thirds and to slash the amount of land available for farming by around 40 percent.

„DESTROY THE PIG PENS

Since the carcasses were discovered in the Huangpu, the response has accelerated. A visit to several farming districts around Jiaxing revealed empty sties, which locals said had been recently vacated for demolition.

Three local women in Henggang told Reuters that pig farmers were being given financial incentives to abandon the land, while one official sign, recently painted on the wall of a nearby factory, read: „Destroy the pig pens, lead a happy life.“

Many farmers are not happy. One 40-year-old said he has been ordered to close down his farm, while another farmer Reuters interviewed was in the middle of selling his pigs at a loss of 150 yuan ($24) per head after being told his farm contravened the regulations. Neither wanted their names used.

„They can’t just do it this way and wipe us out so fast,“ the farmer said, as all but one of his pigs were taken away in two crowded trucks over the space of 30 minutes.

The surge of dead pigs demonstrates the wider pressures China’s farmers now confront. Limited land access, falling pork prices, tighter profit margins and the rapid spread of urbanization forces some farmers off the land entirely. Others are pushed to farm in ever more crowded conditions.

Many Chinese pig farmers use medicated feed containing antibiotics to help stave off disease, but cost pressures have led some to cut back on expensive vaccines in favor of giving medication later when illness strikes. Others skirt incineration costs by dumping livestock.

David Mahon, Beijing-based managing director of Mahon China Investment Management said the pressure on farmers‘ margins was huge, which could lead to some farmers cutting corners.

„If you push (farmers) to this point, they’ll do anything to save costs.“ ($1 = 6.1791 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Jane Lee; Additional reporting by Anita Li in SHANGHAI and Eleven Du and David Stanway in BEIJING; Editing by Bill Powell and Alex Richardson)

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A Butcher in Leeuwarden has begun importing camel meat from Australia


 

A butcher in the northern city of Leeuwarden has begun importing camel meat from Australia – which he says is ‚just as delicious as beef‘. Australia is home to one million wild camels which cause so much damage to crops the government has sanctioned a cull – and the sale of the surplus meat abroad. Johannes Hoekstra, of butcher De Schrans, heard about the meat and decided to import it. Hoekstra bought 50 kilos of camel meat which is enough for 250 burgers, Nos television said. The meat itself is soft and sweeter than beef. But although the meat itself is cheap, the cost of flying it in is expensive, Hoekstra told the broadcaster.

Heartwarming Rescue of Piglet


http://youtu.be/EP0r3g7kVVc Video
http://www.mfablog.org/2013/04/new-mfa-video-captures-heartwarming-rescue-of-Cute pigpiglet.html 

April 3, 2013

New MFA Video Captures Heartwarming Rescue of Piglet

By Nora Kramer

Billions of animals suffer on factory farms every year, yet most of us rarely get to connect with farmed animals as individuals, each with a unique personality and the desire to enjoy life doing things that come naturally to their species.

Recently, MFA had a special opportunity to help in the rescue of a very lucky piglet named Lucy, who was found running through the streets of Riverside, California. After a kind person rescued her from a local animal shelter and provided a temporary home for her, we jumped at the chance to help this piglet by bringing her to Animal Place, a wonderful farmed animal sanctuary in northern California.

We decided to make a short video of our rescue efforts to remind people that this piglet, Lucy, is no different than the animals that end up on people’s dinner tables. In fact, she is no different than the dogs and cats people love. Take a look!

Sow Stall Update


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April 4, 2013
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Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals (CETFA) is an investigative and educational organization established to examine intensive farming practices, including the transportation and slaughter of animals forced to exist in this system.
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SOW STALL UPDATE

Calgary Co-Op
On March 13, CETFA supporter Clint Robertson made a Motion at the Calgary Co-op’s AGM to phase out the sale and sourcing of eggs and pork produced using intensive confinement systems. The motion, which was successfully adopted by co-op members, will be implemented over the next five years at all 24 of the company’s stores.
If you are a member of your local Co-op, you too can make a motion. Co-ops are responsive to members, and as Clint showed, such actions can make an incredible difference in lives of Canada’s farm animals.
Clint has offered to share information and provide assistance to anyone interested in doing the same. You can contact him at clintr415@aol.com.
Tim Hortons
After targeted campaigns by CETFA and others, Tim Hortons released its timeline for a phase out and ban of gestation crates. Tim Hortons will have a sow stall-free pork supply chain by 2022. Read more about it here.
Olymel
Olymel, the second-largest pork producer in the country, has also agreed to phase out gestation crates for pregnant sows by 2022.  For more information, read this article.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDEDCETFA is in the process of updating its website, and is seeking help from a graphic designer. If you have graphic design skills and can volunteer a few hours, please contact us at care@cetfa.com

IN THE NEWSHealth (Canada): Our antibiotics are becoming ineffective. Ontario doctors urge the federal government to crack down on widespread antibiotic use in factory farms to combat drug resistance in humans. Find out more here.
Animal welfare (Canada): Alberta agriculture advises producers to starve pigs to save money. Read the shocking details in a blog post by MFA Canada here.
Animal welfare & heath (Canada): Antidepressants from depressed hens? Ontario egg producers invest in the development of antidepressants made from the eggs of depressed hens. Find out more in a blog post by MFA Canada here.
Breaking news (U.S.): A fifth Butterball employee pleads guilty to criminal cruelty to animals following a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation. Full story.

World news: Bill Gates endorses the development of healthful plant-based foods as alternatives to traditional meat production. Read more here.
World news: BBC’s „What If?“ program takes a look at the future, and predicts that all sales of meat will be banned by 2050.

The Cry of Creature, unheard


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In German language, but the photographs don´t need translation –

and the sounds of dying cattle,slaughtered, still not.