Facing up to the challenge

The BPEX technical group has set itself some ambitious targets in the face of serious challenges to the pig industry.

The main aims are to see significant advances in four areas: meat eating quality, production efficiency, health and welfare, reduced carbon and nitrogen footprint.

To show the progress made, the BPEX Annual Technical Report has just been published giving an in-depth look at what the group has been working on.

Mark Wilson, BPEX director of pig industry development, said: "During the year foot and mouth disease, high feed prices and increases to environmental legislation all challenged the industry's resolve to continue investing in the future.

"Despite the effects of things largely outside producer control, the technical performance of the national herd is showing valuable improvements and this trend needs to continue and accelerate.

"Further increases to environmental legislation required significant additional inputs addressing consultations on, for example; nitrate vulnerable zones, the water framework directive and IPPC.

"The results of many projects to improve meat eating quality through BPEX activity with the processors are now beginning to come through.

"Improvements in herd health and production efficiencies are within the producer's control and it is extremely encouraging to see a great deal of work being undertaken here. Despite the challenges of rocketing feed costs, producers have still been looking at improving their competitive position, through attending workshops and exchanging ideas.

"There's no doubt the current problems are serious but by applying new ideas that are already available, solutions are being found. I believe there are ideas in the report, which will get businesses thinking along with new projects that will make a real difference. Hopefully the next year will bring some much-needed stability."