Local restrictions due to the one-off ASF outbreak in Lower Saxony, Germany, got lifted on October 5. The outbreak on a 1,830 head farm in Emsland, at 20km from the border with the Netherlands, occurred on July 1.
As from that October date, pig producers in a zone around the outbreak location were able to send their finishers to the slaughterhouse. In recent months, pork from these animals had to be heat treated before it was allowed on the market. Slaughterhouses and meat processors were not particularly enthusiastic about this additional process, so in practice hardly any pigs got delivered and farmers had to deal with overcrowded pig houses containing extremely heavy pigs.
According to Lower Saxony’s ministry of agriculture, there are about 40,000 “heavy” pigs waiting for slaughter on in total 260 farms. Insiders in the pig sector, however, are estimating that at least 100,000 pigs need to be sent to a slaughterhouse urgently.
The animals weigh between 150 and 160 kg, with peaks towards 180 kg. The animals will initially go to slaughterhouses in Italy and Poland. Efforts are also being made to offer the heavy pigs to sow slaughterers in Germany.
Swine producers in the ASF area feel left out. Despite efforts by the Lower Saxony agricultural ministry, hardly any pigs were collected from the farmers. No penny was paid for the animals that were collected, even though they had consumed a lot of feed. It is estimated that two thirds of the sow farmers have a so-called “United Animal Insurance” (VTV) and so does one third of the finishing pig producers. Those farmers are partly compensated for their damages.
The rest appears to have to pay for the damage themselves, provided the government still comes up with money. For a number of pig farmers, ASF is the reason to stop their business for good. They have lost a lot of money, while the prospect of a good income is lacking.
At the beginning of July, ASF was detected on a sow farm in Emsbüren. The companies therefore have to deal with restrictions for more than three months. Initially, the restrictions were to be lifted on October 14. That was brought on week forward.