THE Irish Pig Health Society (IPHS) hosted its 50th Anniversary Sym-posium at the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise, on Tuesday, April 9. Farmers turned out in strong numbers, with a sense of renewed energy and buoyancy, which is most likely attributed to the rising demand for Irish pork products.
Eithne White, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, opened proceedings by clearly outlining the potentially devastating impact posed by African swine fever in Europe and gave an update on the potential risks it poses to the island of Ireland. Irish pig farmers recognise that if they stay free of disease there is a significant opportunity to supply some of the export markets for a premium price.
James Brady, Rosderra Irish Meats, reiterated its support for improving pig health initiates for the mutual benefit of the industry. He outlined the different characteristics of producing the perfect pig for domestic and international customers.
Nollaig Heffernan, Independent Management Consultant, addressed the issues that many farmers face with motivating staff and how this impacts on the production system. Farmers heard some fresh ideas on how they can retain and motivate staff.
Pig farmer and Chairman of the National Pig Association, Richard Lister, gave a valuable insight into his own farmer experience of reducing vices in different pig production systems. He outlined the challenges faced by UK pig farmers, which IPHS Symposium attendees found informative as they also strive to be among the world leaders in animal welfare.
Niels-Peder Nielsen, Senior Specialist at the Danish Pig Research Centre, also presented a paper on sustainable solutions to address animal welfare challenges, having worked in the Danish pig industry for over 30 years.
In addition, Justin McCarthy, CEO and Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, chaired a panel discussion of Irish pig farmers and farm managers on the demands of modern day farming and the importance of health and welfare.
IPHS President Calum Dalgarno closed proceedings by thanking past and present IPHS committee members for their continued support, ideas and efforts over the past 50 years as well as the industry sponsors and fellow farmers. He also reiterated the importance of the dissemination of information and the promotion of new ideas to ensure an innovative future for pig farming.