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Export, reproductive management and ITACA (identification, traceability and quality for the iberian pig sector) were the main topics of the 2016 Dialogues on the Iberian Pig

29th April 2016

On April 21, Syva Laboratories held the Thirteenth Edition of The Dialogues on the Iberian Pig, which brought together 650 professionals of the sector in Fregenal de la Sierra (Badajoz)

The Dialogues on the Iberian Pig, organized by Syva Laboratories in collaboration with the Professional Association of Veterinarians of Badajoz, is a professional gathering which is held every two years and brings together all the sectors related to the production of Iberian Pig in Spain; congregating 650 professionals in this edition, including veterinarians, producers, industry representatives and governmental personnel.

This XIIIth edition, celebrated last April 21 in Fregenal de la Sierra (Badajoz) coincided with the 75th Anniversary of Syva Laboratories, a theme that was present throughout the day and especially at the inauguration, attended by Beatriz Muñoz, Assistant to the Directorate-General for the Health of the Agricultural Production of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Antonio Cabezas, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Livestock of the Council of Extremadura, Maria Agustina Rodriguez, Mayor of Fregenal de la Sierra and Jose-Marin Sanchez, President of the Professional Association of Veterinarians of Badajoz, who delivered a plaque commemorating the anniversary of the company to Luis Bascuñan, CEO of Syva Laboratories.

Thanks to its multidisciplinary nature and to the quality of its content, the Dialogues on the Iberian Pig have consolidated itself as a reference for the Iberian Pig sector in Spain. This edition, once again, was characterised by open debate among attendees. Key topics generating engagement during the day were Traceability and Quality in the Iberian Pig Sector in Spain, The Value of the Iberian Pig Beyond Our Borders and Reproductive Management of the Iberian Sow.



Implementation of the Identification System. Traceability and Quality in the Iberian Pig Sector. The ITACA program.

The Roundtable on Traceability and Quality in the Iberian Sector was composed of several representatives of the chain of production who have interacted directly with the ITACA program.

The Interprofessional Association of the Iberian Pig (ASICI) encompasses virtually the entire sector, including both producers and the processing industry, representing more than 90% of the Iberian Pig production. Andres Paredes, General Manager of ASICI, reviewed the four extensions of the normative concerning Iberian Pigs that are being considered, two with the aim of promotion using industry data collection and research support for the sector, and another two related to improving the traceability of Iberian production quality. The lattest will be identified with the allocation of seals and weight control in slaughterhouses. In this respect he offered very interesting data. The most illustrative was the evolution of the seals, which show an increase of 39.3% with respect to the use of 100% Iberian acorn and 79.5% regarding pasture fed in 2015 over the previous year, and with respect to unsuitable channels because of low weight this number exceeded 160,000 in 2015.



Paredes argued that ITACA does not certify anything, it simply collects the information provided by operators, transmitting it along the production chain to the point of sale and therefore represents a point of reference for the sector itself. Whereas, TRIP is a device connected to the slaughterhouse weighing system, which stores the data and sends it to ITACA; that information reaches the farmer, who reports the animals sent to slaughter. Regarding the obligations that the legislation requires of farmers, slaughterhouses and the industry, the General Manager of ASICI valued the significant level of compliance and commitment from the sector and highlighted the work of the technicians in the company and the response from farmers.

With respect to the problems encountered by the inspection authorities related to ITACA, Francisco Caballero, Vice President of the National Association of Inspection Entities and Certification of Accredited Products and Manager of Certicalidad, highlighted those related to piglets falling outside of the normative because they are the offspring of uncertified females, with about half of farms still not registered in the breeding herd book. In addition, the production of Portugal is currently outside the law due to a technicality because its Stud Book refers to the Alentejana breed and not the Iberian. Nevertheless, one of the biggest concerns for Caballero was the lack of availability and time on the part of the certification authorities to meet the claims of farmers, and explained the difficulties in the process of qualifying animals.



The industrial livestock perspective was provided by Agustin Gonzalez, President of Ovipor S.C.A., who noted the difficulty of implementing ITACA in the field, where an increase in technical assistance, administrative work and bureaucracy resulted in an increase in costs. The President of Ovipor described ITACA as a very complex system for such a traditional sector that required control over of all the links in the production chain in order to have utility.



For his part, Jose Grajera, veterinarian with Agrogestion, defended the plight of the small farmer who has to reconcile their field work with the new legal requirements, being essential now to employ an external advice service (ADS veterinarian, cooperatives, etc.).



The Iberian Pig's value beyond our Borders. Export, export and export... but not at any price.

Under the heading "Export, export and export ... but not at any price", Maria Jose Sevilla, Director Foods and Wines from Spain, at the Embassy of Spain in United Kingdom; defended the need to open our production to emerging markets, if we want the pig sector to remain the leading meat processing activity in terms of value.



The representative of the Embassy explained how one of the greatest difficulties in making her presentation was the absence of reliable data on exports of Iberian pig products, since they are added to the overall numbers on pigs. Knowledge of these figures would help us to know the value of the Iberian pig market and its evolution with the aim of defining a necessary strategic internationalization plan.

The quality and excellence of our products make them impossible to imitate, but one has to be careful with innovation in these types of products, which by their very nature, are best in their natural state. It is necessary to bet on the value of Iberian pig products, invest in communication and training, and to seek differentiation based on quality. It is important to prevent other countries with lower quality products from displacing Iberian pig derivatives with information that is confusing for the consumer.

Technical Conference: Assessment of the various aspects affecting the reproductive function of the Iberian sow.

The closure program was dedicated to the traditional Technical Conference, which this year addressed the reproductive management of the Iberian pig from its multiple angles: productivity, health, management, nutrition and genetics; with individual speakers referencing their respective fields.

In the section on profitability and productivity, Pedro Lopez, Manager of BDPorc and the Porc d'Or Animal Breeding and Genetics Awards, offered real figures on productivity in the pig sector in Spain, with the aim of the parameterization of farms. The Iberian BDporc is a comparative analysis tool for businesses, which aids in decision making. It currently contains data from 35,000 Iberian breeders spread throughout the Spanish geography. The 2015 results show that the numerical productivity in Spain stood at around 15.41 weaned piglets per sow per year, with a fertility rate of 84.87%. The evolution of the technical indexes since 2012 have shown improvement year after year, which demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of farmers, aiming for efficiency to maximize profitability, sustainability and their future.



Alvaro Aguaron, Head of Technical Services for Pigs at Syva Laboratories, addressed the most common diseases related to reproduction in pigs and their impact on all rates of sow productivity. Since Iberian pigs are a breed with distinctly worse reproductive rates than their white coated cousins, the impact of diseases, while equally serious, is more noticeable. Aguarón said the animal welfare law has implied a change in the understanding of the pathogenesis for diseases, but has highlighted pathologies that appeared vanquished. To the persistent effects of PRRS as a cause of sow reproductive failure, one has to add Parvovirosis, Swine Erysipelas, Leptospirosis and Chlamydia as potential risks to a greater degree than was present years ago. During his presentation, our colleague from Syva did a cursory review of all these diseases, delving into the key data to understand them and clarifying the most important aspects for their containment.



In this same line of argumentation, aiming not to differentiate between white and Iberian breeds, Ricardo Garcia, Advisor to Porcine Companies, argued that for the Iberian sow to be more productive, it is necessary to start adapting the handling of the white sow in order to exhaust their genetic potential. To achieve the main objective of pig farms - reach the highest number of weaned piglets per sow per year - it is essential to thoroughly analyze all the parameters within which management practices represent the key point in achieving productive success. From the handling gilts to the management of the delivery room, the lighting of the sheds, the storage of semen, techniques for estrus stimulation, through artificial insemination, the key points were addressed to achieve the best results.



The feeding of sows is crucial, both for productivity and longevity. According to Carlos Martin, Head of Porcine Product at NANTA, there is an interrelationship between the different phases of a cycle, so that nutritional errors in pregnancy have consequences in lactation, and errors in lactation affect nutritional needs and productivity in the next pregnancy. One must therefore optimize feeding in each and every phase of every cycle; aiming for a balance between short-term and long-term productivity.

Martín affirmed that he could not make generic recommendations on amounts of feed administered to sows at the various stages of the cycle, as they must be adjusted to the characteristics of the feed, housing, handling and productivity. To facilitate understanding examples of calculation were presented for the nutritional needs of the Iberian sows based on the recommendations of the "FEDNA" Spanish Foundation for the Development of Animal Nutrition and the NRC 2012.



The Technical Conference on reproductive management culminated with the outlook on genetics, presented by Juan Luis Criado, Swine Production expert and member of the Organizing Committee of the Dialogues on the Iberian Pig. Criado said that the genetics market of early breeders offers us sows with a high zootechnical value in terms of maternal reproductive characteristics, the result of a high selection pressure focused strictly on these values. Currently, the trend of selection is aimed at improving meat quality parameters and production costs, seeking animals that better transform food into flesh, resulting in a higher yield of high-quality cuts. The Iberian breed already offers some unique quality meat attributes within the swine species, but unlike the early breeding strains there has been little selection pressure on maternal characteristics.

The genetic improvement proposed in the Iberian sector, is based on the use of the existing variability between and within different strains of Iberian pig, by applying different methods of selection for productive characteristics without having to handle large databases.


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