ASF Philippines: Outbreaks in Pangasinan and Manila

   The Philippines reported an official update on the African Swine Fever (ASF) progress to the OIE. The virus is now officially reported from Pangasinan province as well as Manila, both on Luzon Island.

    In what is the 2nd round of updates to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the report contains 9 new outbreak locations, spread out over Pangasinan province and Manila.

   ASF outbreaks in Manila

In Manila, the Philippines confirmed 7 different outbreaks from Quezon City, which is in Manila’s 2nd District. In all cases, this was about backyard farms in smaller village units. The total amount of animals that had to be culled was 4,919, according to these figures.

   ASF outbreaks in Pangasinan province

In addition, the Philippines confirmed 2 outbreaks to the OIE in the northern province of Pangasinan, in the locations Apalen and Baloling. Here in total 212 pigs had to be culled.

   It looks like more reports will follow in the near future. On the news channel of the Philippine authorities, for instance, also outbreaks have already been reported from Bulacan and Cavite provinces. The FAO website also reports that the provinces Nueva Ecija and Pampanga are infected. Exact data about what is going on in those provinces, however, are not available yet from the OIE.

   At the first update round at the OIE, the Philippines reported that their first outbreak occurred on July 25, in Rodríguez and Antípolo, in Rizal province, east of Manila. That report included 7 outbreaks in backyard facilities. In total, according to the website of the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), 62,000 animals have died or have been culled in relation to ASF.

   ASF situation in South Korea

In the meantime, also South Korea continues to report outbreaks of ASF, mostly in wild boar, along the border with North Korea. The South Korean government now reported 30 cases to the OIE, which is a mixture of cases affecting an entire commercial farm as well as individual wild boar cases in the forest. On the basis of the OIE figures, in South Korea so far 26,893 animals died as a consequence (virus or culling). That included 16 wild boar.

   Several outbreaks in China

Also in China a few outbreaks were reported. On the website of the OIE, a report was confirmed in Yunnan province. Earlier this month, cases were reported (only on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) of outbreaks in Guangxi and Gansu province.

   Pork prices in China have been rising steeply in recent weeks. According to press agency Reuters, pork prices have now gone beyond RMB50 (US$ 7.07) per kg. Figures of 40-60% are being mentioned to quantify the reduction of the Chinese pig herd due to African Swine Fever.

  Credit :

Tight pork supply and a lingering uncertainty

   China's African swine fever outbreak continues into its second year, and the disease's impact - felt across most of the country's administrative regions - could result in a 40% year-on-year loss of its 348 million strong swine inventory, a recent Rabobank report pointed out.

    Worse, this loss could expand to 50% by year-end. Rabobank also foresees that another "10 to 15 percent" drop in "both herd and pork production in 2020."

    Adding to the less optimistic outlook of the Chinese pork sector, the South China Morning Post reported a 26.7% loss of breeding sows in mainland China by the end of June from a year earlier based on a tally provided by China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

    Consequentially, the massive pig deaths left a huge dent in Chinese meat supply, prompting Beijing to seek imports from Europe, Brazil and even the United States, which it remains locking horns with in an ongoing trade war. In fact, the US Meat Export Federation revealed that US exports to China in the second quarter 2019 doubled year-on-year to 60,898 tonnes.

    Referring to government statistics, the South China Morning Post reported that "A 6.2% year-on-year fall in domestic hog supply in the first half meant the slaughtering and meat processing industry   imported 818,702 tonnes of pork - 26.3% higher year on year – to meet demand."

    However, the import of pork from the US was complicated by the US-China trade war. One such company affected by this dispute is WH Group which is also dealing with impact of ASF on the availability of raw meat at its Chinese facilities.

    Increasing the import of pork from WH Group's US unit, Smithfield Foods, would be hampered by the tariffs the US and China had imposed on each other. The company, which imports around 100,000 tonnes of pork a year into China from the US, is now seeking to buy the meat from potential markets outside the US, namely, Europe, South America and Canada.

    This shift in Chinese pork sourcing led to a 52% year-on-year increase (to 432,293 tonnes) of pork exports from the European Union (headed by Germany, Spain and Denmark) in the first five months of 2019. The souring of relations between Canada, a key pork exporter, and China over the arrest of a top executive from Chinese telecom company Huawei also contributed to the European uptrend. In addition, exports from Brazil increased 28.9% to 92,188 tonnes in the first half of this year, said an analyst from commodities brokerage INTL FCStone.

    Still, as highlighted by eFeedLink's Eric J. Brooks in a July report: "...the entire world economy cannot supply sufficient meat – let alone pork – to make up for an ongoing 125 million head decline in Chinese hog inventories. This equals the combined hog inventories of America, Canada and Brazil."

    As such, China is also exploring other alternatives, specifically beef, poultry and fish. According to Brooks, local chicken and farmed seafood production could rise by up to a million tonnes each.

    Meanwhile, the tightening of China's swine numbers have caused hog price to rise 80% in August from February this year. This development presents an opportunity for both WH Group and Muyuan Foodstuff to boost their profits - hence, the latter plans to expand production this year despite the ASF outbreak.

     Whether this action will position Muyuan's profits for a satisfying uptrend remains to be seen. Already, the company - which is China's second-biggest pig producer - has reported an increase in first-half losses from last year due to declining pig prices in the first quarter of 2019 and rising costs in keeping its farms free from ASF.

    Based on a Reuters report, Muyuan has suffered a net loss a net loss of ¥155.7 million (US$21.95 million) compared with a loss of ¥78.7 million (US$11 million) a year earlier, in the first six months of this year.

    The company joins other Chinese firms also affected by ASF-linked losses, including COFCO, which witnessed a ¥276 million (US$38.9 million) loss of first-half profits from 2018.

    Inevitably, the pressures faced by the Chinese swine sector has a far-reaching impact on local feed production as well.

    "Complete feed accounts for 42% of hog feed consumption," eFeedLink's Eric Brooks noted.

    Another eFeedLink analyst, Shi Tao, stated that, "In June 2019, nine (out of 22) provinces slashed the output of complete hog feed by more than 50% compared with June 2018. The output of another nine provinces decreased by more than 20%. Total complete hog feed output fell by 32.4% year-on-year."

    Brooks said that the sharp drops in hog feed production is in line with eFeedLink's July 2019 Livestock Tracker, which stated: "Since peaking at 492 million head in January, African swine fever mortality and culling slashed inventories by 7.1%. Expect an additional ASF-induced inventory fall of 20% to 25% from current levels before they stabilise."

    This downtrend in feed production could explain the recent losses of Chinese feed maker Beijing Dabeinong Technology Grup Co. Ltd, which produced 4.6 million tonnes of feed - mostly for pigs - last year. On August 21, the company reported a 67.67% drop in first-half net profit due to affected feed demand as well as weaker earnings from its pig farms.

    Overall, experts and analysts saw a long road ahead for the Chinese swine sector's recovery and suggested that the country's livestock production system is in need of some reformation.

    "It would be a miracle if African swine fever can be controlled, let alone eradicated, within the next five to 10 years," Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor at City University's Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences in Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post. He identified the density of Chinese farms and weak biosecurity in the entire production hain as the industry's main challenges.

    "ASF is merely the most severe symptom of a much larger problem: China's chronic, decade long agribusiness crisis is not so much due to unfortunate microbial outbreaks, illegal farm animal farming methods or government policies but an entire livestock farming paradigm," Brooks said.

    "The fact no other developed or developing country faces comparable non-stop disease-and-scandal driven constraints on its meat output implies that this problem is rooted in China's approach to livestock farming."


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The efficient fat utilization by using emulsifying agents

     As the intensive animal production industry requires the animal to grow fast and efficiently. They have to grow as fast as possible with the minimize amount of feed. So, they need the rich energy's diets for consumption, which is usually supplied by the addition of fats and oils.
     By the way, before these fats can be digested, the emulsification by emulsifying agents such as bile acids is needed. This process is necessary because of the digestive tract is an aqueous environment, although fats and oils are lipophilic substances.
     In the first stage of fat digestion, fat have to emulsified by bile salts and phospholipids. Because of the fat is insoluble in water, the fat droplets will accumulate into the fat globules in the aqueous environment of the small intestine. To avoid this, fat emulsification by bile salt is needed due to emulsified the large lipid globules into the small lipid droplets.
     The reducing in fat globule size is the result in increase the contact surface with lipase for hydrolysis. The fat molecule, Triglyceride, is broken down by lipase into 2 fatty acids and 1 monoglyceride.
     After fat hydrolysis, fatty acids and monoglyceride have to mixed with the bile salts and other phospholipids to form the micelle for transport the lipophilic substances in the intestinal lumen and through the unstirred water layer of the enterocytes for nutrient absorption.
     However, the young animal cannot produce sufficient amounts of bile acids for efficient emulsification and micelle formation. So, the supplementation of emulsifying agents such as Lysolecithin can be beneficial for nutrient digestion and absorption of young animals.
     Credit: Technical report, FRAmelco Research and Development department, The Netherlands

CPF also switched to group housing for sows

     Thailand's largest swine producer Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) has confirmed that it will convert all new farms to group housing for gestating sows in the years to come.
     Charoen Pokphand Foods' vice president of the pig business, Mr. Soontorn Imboonta, confirmed that news to Pig Progress.
     At the moment, 24% of CPF's sow farms in Thailand have already switched to group gestation pens, Mr.Soontorn said. The transition will also apply to all new-to-build pig houses.
     Gradually, during maintenance, also the existing buildings will be converted as well, Mr. Soontorn told. For farms in Thailand, the total transition is intended to be completed by 2025.
     Keeping sows in groups of 8
     It is intended to keep the sows in groups of 8, using free access stalls, he said. This conversion is estimated to require a 10% additional surface. Either this will mean that buildings have to be expanded or about 10% fewer sows can be held in the similar buildings.
     The main reason for the conversion to group housing is welfare, said Mr. Soontorn, although in Thailand currently there is not a strong movement yet demanding more animal welfare for pigs and sows. It pays off to be ahead of the game, he indicated.
     Mr. Soontorn said that one of the reasons to convert is because in many trials sows have been observed to be better prepared for farrowing.
     Late last year, Betagro, Thailand's number 2 in terms of swine production, also announced to convert to group housing for sows. In addition, Qinglian Food in China made the step towards conversion to group housing. In the European Union, group housing for gestation sows has been mandatory since 2013.
     Credit:Vincent ter Beek. (2018, May). CPF also switched to group housing for sows, Retrieved from

Greater management before weaning improves first lactation performance

     The preweaning period is the most important phase in the productive life of a dairy cow. The meta-analyses published recently by University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center and Pennsylvania State University's researchers determined the relationships between early-life parameters and the performance of first-lactation cow.
     The researchers found that average daily gain (ADG) during the first 8 weeks of calf life significantly improved 305-days milk yield in the first lactation: for every kg of ADG at 8 weeks, milk yield improved by 1.9 kg. per day.
     For the milk qualities, each additional 100g.of preweaning ADG, fat and protein contents during the first lactation increased.
     In order to take full advantage of the greater growth before weaning, an adequate feeding program should be implemented during the rest of the heifer period (from weaning until calving). Because of better early-life growth result in the greater performance of the first lactating cows.
     Credit:"Greater intake before weaning improves first lactation performance." 2018. International Dairy Topics, Volume 17, 1:29.

Caged shell eggs VS Animal welfare

     French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert has announced that the Government is to ban the sale of shell eggs in supermarkets from cages by 2022.
     Mr. Travert said he was honouring a commitment made by French President Emmanuel Macron last year when he promised the WorldWide Fund for Nature that he would ban the sale of eggs from caged hens.
     Speaking to the French radio broadcaster Europe 1, Mr Travert said: “In 2022, so-called shell eggs – sold in boxes or loose – will be from free-range hens and not battery hens. It was a campaign promise and will be kept.”
     Some French supermarkets are already taking action and pledged to withdraw caged shell eggs from stores. Monoprix stopped selling caged eggs in 2016, while Carrefour will only sell free-range eggs from 2020.
     Auchan had set itself a target of 2025 before this week’s announcement. While the move has the backing of nearly nine of out of ten French voters, according to a recent poll, it has attracted criticism.
     French poultry sector angered
     Mr. Travert's announment has angered the French poultry sector, which is the largest in the EU and produced 14.3 billion eggs in 2016. Currently, around two thirds of eggs sold in France come from 32 million cages hens. The French eat an average of 220 eggs a year.
     Poultry farmers said the ban would cost hundreds of millions of euros to implement and may infringe the EU's single market rules.
     The Times reported the National committee for the Promotion of Eggs as saying the ban would drive hundreds of chicken farmers out of business, leading to an "explosion of imports" and a large rise in prices.
     Credit: Tony McDougal. (2018,Feb). France to ban sale of eggs from caged hens by 2022, Retrieved from

Growing evidence that eggs improve eye health

     Research has found that people eating 12 eggs a week had significant improvement inglare recovery – a measurement that enable the eye to recover following exposure tobright light. The study also found that egg consumers also showed an 83% increase in serum zeaxanthin concentrations, which is an antioxidant that protects the eye against damaging blue light, originating from sunlight, indoor lighting, TVs and computer screens.
     Bioavailability of zeaxanthin and lutein – higher in eggs
     While zeaxanthin and lutein can also be found in green leafy and yellow vegetables as well as egg yolks, the bioavailability of these compounds is much higher from eggs and research has shown that regular egg consumption increases both serum and macular levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.
     Results: Significant improvement in glare recovery
     Tia Rains, Egg Nutrition Centre director, said researchers had evaluated several aspects of eye function as well as serum concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin.
     “Findings include a significant improvement in glare recovery following the egg intervention, a measurement that quantifies the time it takes the macula to return to normal function following exposure to a bright light. Egg consumers also showed an 83% increase in serum zeaxanthin concentrates compared to baseline. There were no changes in the control group.
     “With 76 million baby boomers in the United States at risk from the development of AMD, these results have significant public health implications. This study shows that a simple change in one’s diet can benefit the progression of the disease,” she added.
     Credit: Tony McDougal. (2017,Oct). Growing evidence that eggs improve eye health, Retrieved from

Scientists find genes responsible for mummified piglets

     Several regions on the pig genome have been identified to be associated with early lethality, responsible for a significant fraction of the stillborn piglets (also known as mummies).
     Researchers from Animal Breeding and Genomics from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and animal breeding organisation Topigs Norsvin reported about their finding in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Genomics.
     The results from this study will help to lower the amount of stillborn piglets by avoiding matings producing affected or non-viable progeny, demonstrating its value for current breeding programmes and animal welfare.
     Early death of developing piglet embryo
     Lethal genetic variation is present in every population. However, identification of such variation is often difficult because of the low-frequency nature and because the presence of embryonic lethal variation could only be measured indirectly through reduced fertility of the parent animals. In theory, when a monogenic recessive lethal variant leads to very early death of the developing embryo, a loss of 25% of each litter is expected if two carriers of a lethal variant mate.
     In this study, the researchers aimed to identify regions on the pig genome associated with both early and late termination of development during gestation in pigs. To do this, they applied a method that systematically scans the genome for regions that harbour lethal variation supported by reduced fertility for carrier animals.
     Piglets dying mid-gestation
     In total, 3 purebred pig breeds were examined and candidate lethal variation was found in each of the breeds. For 1 specific variant, the researchers found strong evidence from carrier matings that homozygous foetuses become mummified, as they die mid-gestation.
     In mammals, death of an embryo or foetus usually does not result in spontaneous termination of the pregnancy, when also carrying living young. Instead, foetuses go through a process of desiccation and encapsulation, known as mummification.
     Severe effects on pig fertility
     The results from this study confirm the existence, relative rarity, and severe effects on fertility of lethal genetic variation in highly managed livestock populations. However, all of the deleterious variation identified is breed specific, and therefore do not have phenotypic consequences in the crossbred production animals.
     Finally, this study will help to avoid risk-matings producing non-viable progeny, demonstrating its value in current pig breeding programmes.
     Credit: Vincent ter Beek. (2017,Dec). Scientists find genes responsible for mummified piglets. PigProgress, Retrieved from