AHDB’s popular Pig Health Scheme will return 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 the prevalence and severity of 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.
Lauren Turner, AHDB Animal Health & Welfare Scientist, 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.
“Through September and October, our main priority is delivering refresher training for assessors”, continued Lauren.
“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 be dependent on the refresher training and initial quality assurance visits, but details will be shared online and in AHDB’s e-newsletter – Pork Weekly – as soon as they are available.
“Since it will have been some time since producers received a Pig Health Scheme report, I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes to refresh themselves with our helpful guide”, Lauren advises. “This outlines what to do when you receive 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, which are going to be 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. For more information about the scheme, including when and where assessments will be taking place, visit ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/pig-health-scheme