Expert opinion

Pig Welfare Symposium: Rounding up the pig people

Often swine events tend to be specialised, aiming at one specific part of the industry. In that respect, the Pig Welfare Symposium in the US in November is different. The subjects unite many disciplines in the swine business, writes pig welfare expert Dr Monique Pairis-Garcia.

It is that time of year again! The US National Pork Board is proud to host the 2nd annual Pig Welfare Symposium, which will be held 13-15 November 2019 in Minneapolis, MN, United States.

The symposium will provide a forum for sharing ideas, learning from other segments of the industry, and fostering dialogue on animal welfare related issues. Specific objectives of this symposium are to improve the welfare of pigs by disseminating recent research findings and recommendations, raising awareness of current and emerging issues and identifying potential solutions.

The Pig Welfare Symposium has taken on a strong international agenda. Photo: Ronald Hissink
The Pig Welfare Symposium has taken on a strong international agenda. Photo: Ronald Hissink

On-farm experience and scientific innovations

The agenda this year provides a great balance of practical on-farm experience and the latest scientific innovations for improving pig welfare. This symposium was developed originally to address topics relevant to the US swine industry but has taken on a strong international agenda, emphasising the value of sharing thoughts and ideas across the globe.

The 3-day conference begins with 2 pre-symposium sessions targeting

  1. Students interested in welfare;
  2. Spanish speaking members of the industry.

Pig welfare from different angles

The remainder of the 1st day and 2nd day will be dedicated as the general session covering a diverse set of topics including:

  • ‘Pig welfare; a global perspective’,
  • ‘One welfare: what does it mean to the swine industry’; and
  • ‘Health, welfare and antibiotics’.

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Speakers have been specifically chosen to represent the diversity of the US swine industry as a means to encourage dialogue within the group. The last day of the symposium will consist of interactive workshops on ‘On-farm euthanasia’, ‘Low stress handling’ and ‘Day 1 pig care’.

Table top exercise on animal disease

On a more timely note, the symposium will also hold an interactive workshop entitled ’Preparing for a foreign animal disease’. Led by Dr Patrick Webb and Dr Glen Almond, this workshop will include a hands-on table top exercise with a life-like miniature model of a typical swine barn and its surrounding location. Participants will be put in the driver’s seat to make decisions on how to control flow and manage disease within this setting.

The miniature model of a typical swine barn. Foto: Photo: SMEC
The miniature model of a typical swine barn. Foto: Photo: SMEC

Bringing all pig people together

The Pig Welfare Symposium is one of the more unique events I attend, as it does not cater to one group of ‘pig people’. This conference provides an opportunity for all of those involved in the swine industry to work together.

Whether you are a pig welfare scientist, a producer, caretaker, or a member of the allied industry, this symposium will provide you with the opportunity to network with individuals across the world and bring home pertinent information to improve pig welfare through practical solutions.

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