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African swine fever could kill one-quarter of world’s pigs

The president of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) says African swine fever (ASF) could result in the loss of one-quarter of the world’s pig population.

Curious Pigs In Pig Breeding Farm In Swine Business In Tidy And
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OIE president calls disease the ‘biggest threat’ to commercial pig production in history

African swine fever (ASF) could result in the loss of one-quarter of the world’s pig population, according to the president of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

OIE President Mark Schipp said this week that ASF is the biggest threat to commercial pig production in history.

“I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen,” he said. “And it’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”

There is no vaccine or cure for the deadly pig disease, but researchers are hard at work to find ways to mitigate its spread.

Protein prices

ASF, which has been spreading throughout Asia and Europe for more than a year and has devastated China’s hog industry, has caused the price of pork to nearly double from a year ago in China and to rise in other parts of the world.

“There are some shortages in some countries, and there’s been some substitutions using other sources of protein, which is driving up the prices of other proteins,” said Schipp.

According to a recent report from Rabobank, China’s hog feed consumption is expected to drop by 40% in 2019. While hog feed accounted for 54% of feed demand in 2018, Rabobank said, that number will drop to 39% in 2019 and 2020, with poultry feed gaining share. In 2018, poultry feed demand share was 35% (18% layer feed and 17% broiler feed), 6% aquafeed and 5% ruminant and other feeds.

“Driven by rising prices of animal protein and substitutional effects, other feeds – for broilers, layers and aqua – will see positive growth in 2019 and 2020,” Rabobank said.

Changing the way pigs are raised

Schipp said ASF is changing the way pigs are raised in China and other countries affected by the disease.

“In China, previously they had a lot of backyard piggeries. They’re seeing this as an opportunity to take a big step forward and move to large scale commercial piggeries,” he said. “The challenge will be to other countries without the infrastructure or capital reserves to scale up in those ways.”

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

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