Peter Bown, who has spent his entire career in private practice since graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1968, plans to make control or elimination of endemic pig diseases, such as PRRS and swine dysentery, a priority for the Society during his year of office.
“This will help the UK pig industry to reduce its cost of production and become more competitive in the European market place. Disease currently costs the industry at least £7 per pig” he said.
The success in controlling pig diseases associated with porcine circo virus 2 — such as PMWS — through the use of PCV2 vaccine will now enable vets to help producers focus on other ailments, including sarcoptic mange as well as the economically-significant PRRS and swine dysentery. But he warns that it is important for the industry to maintain its welfare advantages.
“The British pig industry has higher welfare standards than most other European countries and we need to maintain this advantage. However, it is imperative that the UK industry is not further disadvantaged by the government passing unilateral welfare legislation that increases the cost of production. This would make our already high-cost industry even less competitive,” he said.
He feels it is important to identify the real needs of the pig “by good science” rather than rely on philosophical anthropomorphism. Health inspectors are now recommending that toys used to provide ‘environmental enrichment’ must be changed weekly, but the provision of toys alone doesn’t prevent such problems as vice. “In pushing for higher welfare standards the industry may have encouraged Defra to take a stronger line on these issues,” he said.
Awarded FRCVS (Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) by examination in 1974, Mr Bown has helped expand the George Veterinary Group from four vets in 1970 to 27 in 2009. He has been the consultant vet to PIC since July 2001 and is a member of the editorial board of Pig & Poultry Marketing magazine
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