Danish pork industry works on antibiotic-free pork production

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Denmark sets antibiotic-free pig target

Related tags Pork

The Danish government has allocated DKK12.5 million (m) to a three-year research project into how to reduce the need for antibiotics among its pigs.

It hopes that 1.5 million pigs will be produced without antibiotics by 2021. There are currently 200,000 pigs produced without antibiotics.

The project is being run by Danish Crown, Denmark’s Technical University, Copenhagen University, Statens Serum Institut and agricultural service SEGES. In addition, the Environment and Food Ministry’s Green Development and Demonstration programme has contributed DKK12.5m to the project. The total budget for the project is DKK15.5m.

Environment and food minister Esben Lunde Larsen said: "This project means we’re taking an important step towards being able to produce more pigs without the use of antibiotics.”

The purpose of the scheme is to create a scientifically robust basis for increasing pig production without the use of antibiotics throughout the entire lifecycle of the pig (known in Denmark as OUA pigs) so that OUA production can become a profitable business.

Danish Crown began its first trials with OUA pigs in 2015.

What are OUA pigs?

OUA pigs are produced without antibiotics from birth to slaughter. However, should a pig become ill, it receives treatment and will subsequently be slaughtered and sold as a conventional pig, with all existing protocols regarding withdrawal times being observed. OUA pigs are not fed with animal fat, blood or fish products.

Those involved in the project believe large-scale production to be viable. "Production of antibiotic-untreated pigs is possible to implement as part of existing pig production,”​ said Poul Bækbo, chief consultant at SEGES.

Danish farmers have already reduced the amount of antibiotics used in production by 25% since 2009. Christian Fink Hansen, sector director for pig production at SEGES, added: "We welcome the minister’s support for the project so that we can continue to reduce antibiotic consumption and share our positive experiences with the rest of the industry.”

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