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Pig Keeping

I often get sent books for review but I’ve never had a magazine before and this one was a surprise to say the least. In fact I don’t think it was sent for review as such, I suspect they think I’ll buy it. The magazine was Pig & Poultry Marketing and is obviously a trade magazine.

No fluffiness here, this is aimed at the large-scale, commercial producers and is quite an eye opener for those not in the know.

Now I don’t know much about pigs, Churchill said something like: “A dog looks up to you, a cat looks down on you but a pig looks you in the eye” and I like bacon. That nearly sums up my knowledge except for an awareness of the terrible conditions European producers (especially including the Danes) rear pork in and that the higher welfare standards in the UK (not always that much better, by the way) put British farmers at a financial disadvantage.

The adverts are pretty revealing – lots of vaccinations to prevent diseases I’ve never heard of with good returns on investment but the one that really struck me was for a breed of pig.

Pig breeds used to be Tamworths or Gloucester Old Spot but not any more, now we have the GP90, short for Genepacker 90 which has superior JSR genetics. (JSR refers to JSR Genetics Ltd, I assume)

Now it states that “GP90 sows rear over 30 pigs per sow per year, 8.4 more than the industry average of 21.6” So we’ve got a pig that produces at a prodigious rate. No reference to quality of the meat, or if they’re suitable for pork or bacon. Just production.

You have to ask yourself if this is what we really want. By ‘we’ I mean us, the ‘consumer’. Sadly the answer is yes. Whatever we may say about quality and welfare it always seems to come down to price and GP90 delivers quantity.

In the leader of the magazine it discusses the fact that the government buys imported bacon to serve in the Palace of Westminster. For all the platitudes the government gives about buying local, buying British and British jobs, animal welfare etc., they buy imported bacon because it’s cheaper. Note that – the only criteria is the price.

Apparently the procurement policies are set in Brussels so what can they do? To be honest, I can’t believe it’s beyond the wit of the Sir Humphreys to work out a way around that.

Another article in the magazine was about Boar Taint in pork. Now this is a flavour imparted to the meat that many people don’t like caused by the chemical androstenone which is made in the boar’s testicles as he matures.

In the old days, the pigs were castrated but we in Britain no longer do this (on welfare grounds) so our boars are sent to market early – unlike our European partners pigs. There’s that economic disadvantage again.

Now there’s a vaccine that prevents the pigs testes from developing and, as I read it, chemically castrates them. I don’t know whether to be pleased for the farmers or terrified and in awe of the power of science.

Posted in Rants and Raves
2 comments on “Pig Keeping
  1. Webwahm says:

    Thanks John – I read and learn so much from this site!

    I once had a similar ‘encounter’ with an insider-type trade mag which advertised those things that electrocute dogs when they bark…then they asked me if I wanted to advertise with them…ha! Not on your nellie!

    Keep the rants coming!

  2. John says:

    Don’t worry, plenty more rants to come but I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with work and just don’t seem to have a minute some days for life!

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