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AHDB’s popular Pig Health Scheme has returned this autumn with an enhanced benchmarking feature, following a coronavirus-enforced hiatus. Pig health scheme returns this autumn

AHDB’s popular Pig Health Scheme has returned this autumn with an enhanced benchmarking feature, following a coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Under the free-to-join scheme, assessors monitor English pigs at slaughter for 12 different conditions. This enables producers and their vets to track the health of their herd, with data being used to inform management changes to reduce levels of disease.

AHDB Animal Health & Welfare Scientist Lauren Turner (pictured) said: “Pig Health Scheme assessments were suspended in March 2020 due to the increasing pressures plants and assessors were facing.

“The industry put a huge effort into navigating the early stages of the pandemic and coping under extreme strain, but we know from talking to producers just how many are keen to start receiving herd health data once more.”

The priority since last month has been delivering refresher training for assessors. 

“We are fortunate that 10 of our existing assessors are now available and ready to kickstart the scheme once they have received their refresher training. To bolster numbers, we also have a group of seven new assessors who will undergo the full training provided by VetScore.”

The plan is for a phased return of Pig Health Scheme assessments at several plants. Assessment dates will depend on the refresher training and initial quality assurance visits, with details shared online and in AHDB’s Pork Weekly e-newsletter.

Interpret data

“It will have been some time since producers received a Pig Health Scheme report, so I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes to refresh themselves with our guide. This outlines what to do with your report and how to interpret the data.”

Despite assessments being suspended for 18 months, AHDB has been working in the background to introduce a new benchmarking feature. This will enable producers and vets to quickly and easily see where their farm sits in comparison to the national herd. This will be available after the first quarter of data collection.

Lauren added: “We have seen fantastic industry backing for the scheme, and I would like to thank everyone who is supporting us with the roll out of refresher training and early quality assurance visits – vital in getting the scheme back up and running.”

Anyone wishing to sign up for the scheme can do so quickly and easily via their pig hub account or by getting in touch via PHS@ahdb.org.uk.

Pig Health Scheme in numbers

  • 12 health conditions assessed
  • 82% of farm-to-slaughter moves covered
  • 214,919 pigs assessed annually
  • 11 abattoirs participating in scheme

For more news on pig & poultry, read about the ammonia trials cutting emissions and saving the sector £15.3m.