DENMARK - Five of Danish Crown's cooperative owners will begin trialling the production of slaughter pigs without antibiotics from December.
Worldwide, Denmark has one of the lowest levels of antibiotics use in pig production. Nevertheless, it is an issue which is receiving considerable attention and, together with its cooperative owners, Danish Crown would like to contribute to finding sustainable solutions for Danish pig production.
The company's CEO for Pork, Jesper Friis, said: "Inspired by the public debate, we are setting up a trial together with a handful of pig producers, the purpose being to increase our knowledge of what it takes to produce pigs for slaughter without using any antibiotics."
From 1 December, five pig producers on the island of Bornholm will be trialling the production of pigs for slaughter without the use of any antibiotics.
The trial will involve one integrated production unit and a number of farms producing pigs for slaughter.
The Danish Crown Advisory Service team will monitor the herds closely together with local consultants, the Danish Pig Research Centre (VSP) and other relevant experts. The monitoring aims to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised by the trial and that any sick animals receive treatment. At the same time, it will ensure that any animals which have been treated with antibiotics are removed from deliveries of antibiotics-free animals to the slaughterhouse.
Mr Friis added: "On the farms producing pigs for slaughter, we will find out whether it is possible to produce pigs for slaughter – from when they are delivered to the farm as weaners until they are sent for slaughter – without using any antibiotics, and in the integrated production we will establish whether it is possible to produce pigs from birth until slaughter without using antibiotics."
The production of pigs for slaughter without the use of any antibiotics will entail additional costs for farmers. More inspections, increased staffing levels and improved hygiene efforts will increase labour costs.
Danish Crown will also use the trial to determine whether there is a market for the products. They will cost more in the shops to cover the additional costs for farmers.
At present, it is a documented fact that the meat sold to consumers contains no drug residues, adds Danish Crown. The withdrawal period for animals for slaughter to which medicines have been administered is defined scientifically depending on the specific medicines used.