Antibiotic free piglets

Sustainable and Innovative Pig Farming 

Wiking Meat was founded to inspire and deploy a new agenda for the next generation of pig farming: Antibiotic-free pigs. The system is based on 30 years of experience and continued enhancement of the method in the past 12 years.

Antibiotic-free Pigs

Wiking Meat was founded to inspire and deploy a new agenda for the next generation of pig farming: Antibiotic-free pigs. The system is based on 30 years of experience and continued enhancement of the method in the past 12 years.

The Danish founder of the basic components of the Wiking Meat concept, Claus Wildenschild (55), owns a large Danish pig farm in the south of Jutland near the German-Danish border. Twelve years ago, Claus put a lot of work into his piglet and finisher pig farm but he was not happy with the results. Every year, he struggled harder to keep diseases and harmful bacteria away from his farm. Claus began to look for the underlying cause of his problems but failed to find any helpful information, at least none within his own industry. He began to conduct investigations of his own. In his endeavour to find a solution, he had first to acknowledge the complexity of rearing pigs under the usual circumstances. Pig farms had grown from small, family-driven farms into industrial pig producing plants. At that time, a pig farmer was called a “producer”: The pig had mutated into a product, rather than a living animal.

Feed

Claus had previously experimented on a small scale with pig feed, substituting feed ingredients that had become too expensive. As a crop farmer, Claus delivered most of his crops to a cooperative, from which he bought ready-made feed for his pigs.

Claus discovered that the pigs sometimes got diarrhoea for no specific reason. He often had to call a veterinary, who often prescribed antibiotics for every pig in the herd “just to be on the safe side”. Sometimes this helped and sometimes it did not.
As outbreaks of diarrhoea became increasingly frequent, Claus was convinced that the problem originated in the pig feed. After getting no answers regarding the origin of the soy, he changed supplier. Nothing changed.
Claus was increasingly convinced that he had to regain control of the feed with all its ingredients. As he was already a crop-grower, Claus decided to grow as much as he could of the crops he needed to feed his own pigs. Today, he grows 89% of the grain needed to feed his pigs.

By analysing his own crops during the growing period, he found that if he avoided spraying pesticides close to harvest, the result was less diarrhoea in the pig herd. He had found the key to a good, healthy life for his pigs. This was the beginning of a long journey to develop a complete concept. By feeding his pigs with healthy feed, Claus ensures that they have strong immune defences and many of the issues caused by inadequate immunity to disease are resolved. Claus had set a positive spiral in motion.

Animal welfare

Healthy feed gave lower stress levels in the herd. Lower stress levels in turn meant that the pigs were less aggressive. Less aggressive behaviour led to less tail biting (tail biting is one of the major causes of inflammatory diseases in pigs). By eliminating all these negative influences – all of which were essentially caused by poor and sometimes toxic feed – the use of antibiotics fell dramatically. Today, the first six Danish farmers (rearing annually 53,000 pigs) to use the Wiking Meat System concept enjoy a success ratio of more than 90% antibiotic-free pig farming, counted from and including the sow and her piglets to the finishing pig.

Consumption and multi-resistant bacteria

As the world’s public health systems battle with multi-resistant bacteria and viruses, they have turned to focus on excessive use of antibiotics. Public opinion regarding animal welfare, human health and environmental issues (including climate change issues in connection with meat production) is beginning to push the markets in the right direction, i.e. towards creating a top-line balance to cover environmental, social and financial issues. Wiking Meat believes that, if the human population eats fresh, high quality meat no more than twice a week, we can begin to exercise a sustainable impact on our planet. Wiking Meat is a premium-quality meat standard that bears the sustainability agenda in mind.

Quality and traceability of origin

The market receives full and transparent information about the origin and content of the feed down to every field and source. A tracking system allows all stakeholders to trace meat back to the individual farmer. Tracking data will be stored for at least five years. Third-party certification institutes will carry out tests to ensure that the Wiking Meat System criteria are met. The breeders are committed to long-term partnerships with local colleagues and grouped (5-6 breeders) working together and sharing knowledge. Every group has its own development roadmap towards meeting Wiking Meat System standards.

Wiking Meat System

What to expect from the new standard in a steady development (in brief)

  • Reared without antibiotics (sick pigs: about 5–7% are separated from the herd and treated in special pig pens on a regular basis)
  • Up to 90% (by 2017) locally grown feed based non-GMO crops. In 2018, 100% feed will be locally grown
  • Tested free of salmonella
  • Feed, pigs and pork meat origins are fully and 100% traceable
  • Live pigs are transported no more than 2.5 hours in their entire lifetime
  • Batch-slaughtering from the same herd and farm
  • Fair trade for family-owned farms – 100% of the market price and 75% of the premium above market price is paid directly to the farmer
  • Meat is sold nationally. The Wiking Meat System itself will be exported. Production must remain local, e.g. to minimise GHG emissions
  • Continued investment in education, R&D, animal welfare and food safety.

 

Antibiotic-free earmark