ABSTRACT: Food animal production practices are often cited as having negative animal welfare consequences. The U.S. swine industry has not been exempt from such criticisms. Little is known, however, about how lay citizens who are not actively engaged in agricultural discussions, think about swine production. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the views of people not affiliated with the swine industry on what they perceived to be the ideal pig/pork farm, and their associated reasons. Through an online survey, participants were invited to respond to the following open-ended question: "What do you consider to be an ideal pig/pork farm and why are these characteristics important to you?". Generally respondents considered animal welfare (e.g., space, freedom to move, and humane treatment), respondents considered the business operation role important for pork production (e.g., profitability, compliance with sanitary, environmental rules and regulations, and workers' rights), and naturalness (e.g., natural feeding, behaviours and life) important for pork production. Concerns relating to pigs' quality of life included space to move, feeding, contact with outdoors or nature, absence of pain, suffering and mistreatment. Perspectives were also raised regarding the ideal farm as a profitable business operation, clean, and with optimal sanitary conditions. Respondents also emphasized naturalness, frequently stating that pigs should have access to the outdoors, and rejected the use of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals for the purposes of increasing production. In summary, the findings of this study suggest that the U.S. swine industry should strive to adopt animal management practices that resonate with societal values, such as ensuring humane treatment, and the failure to do so could risk the sustainability of the swine industry.
Project description:Many members of the public and important stakeholders operating at the upper end of the food chain, may be unfamiliar with how food is produced, including within modern animal production systems. The intensification of production is becoming increasingly common in modern farming. However, intensive systems are particularly susceptible to production diseases, with potentially negative consequences for farm animal welfare (FAW). Previous research has demonstrated that the public are concerned about FAW, yet there has been little research into attitudes towards production diseases, and their approval of interventions to reduce these. This research explores the public's attitudes towards, and preferences for, FAW interventions in five European countries (Finland, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK). An online survey was conducted for broilers (n = 789), layers (n = 790) and pigs (n = 751). Data were analysed by means of Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA, exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modelling. The results suggest that the public have concerns regarding intensive production systems, in relation to FAW, naturalness and the use of antibiotics. The most preferred interventions were the most "proactive" interventions, namely improved housing and hygiene measures. The least preferred interventions were medicine-based, which raised humane animal care and food safety concerns amongst respondents. The results highlighted the influence of the identified concerns, perceived risks and benefits on attitudes and subsequent behavioural intention, and the importance of supply chain stakeholders addressing these concerns in the subsequent communications with the public.
Project description:While food losses (foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people) have been included in animal feed for millennia, the practice is all but banned in the European Union. Amid recent calls to promote a circular economy, we conducted a survey of pig farmers (n = 82) and other agricultural stakeholders (n = 81) at a UK agricultural trade fair on their attitudes toward the use of food losses in pig feed, and the potential relegalisation of swill (the use of cooked food losses as feed). While most respondents found the use of feeds containing animal by-products or with the potential for intra-species recycling (i.e. pigs eating pork products) to be less acceptable than feeds without, we found strong support (>75%) for the relegalisation of swill among both pig farmers and other stakeholders. We fit multi-hierarchical Bayesian models to understand people's position on the relegalisation of swill, finding that respondents who were concerned about disease control and the perception of the pork industry supported relegalisation less, while people who were concerned with farm financial performance and efficiency or who thought that swill would benefit the environment and reduce trade-deficits, were more supportive. Our results provide a baseline estimate of support amongst the large-scale pig industry for the relegalisation of swill, and suggest that proponents for its relegalisation must address concerns about disease control and the consumer acceptance of swill-fed pork.
Project description:It is well verified that pig farms are an important reservoir and supplier of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). However, little is known about the transmission of ARGs between the breeding environment and subsequently produced pork. This study was conducted to investigate if ARGs and associated host bacteria spread from the breeding environment onto the meat through the food production chain. We thus analyzed the occurrence and abundance of ARGs, as well as comparing both ARG and bacterial community compositions in farm soil, pig feces and pork samples from a large-scale pig farm located in Xiamen, People's Republic of China. Among the 26 target ARGs, genes conferring resistance to sulfonamide, trimethoprim, aminoglycoside, chloramphenicol, macrolide, florfenicol, and tetracycline were observed at high frequency in both the pig breeding environment and pork. The prevalence of ARGs in pork was surprisingly consistent with breeding environments, especially between the pork and feces. The relative abundance of 10 representative ARGs conferring resistance to six classes of antibiotics ranged from 3.01 × 10-1 to 1.55 × 10-6 copies/16S rRNA copies. The ARGs conferring resistance to sulfanilamide (sulI and sulII), aminoglycoside (aadA), and tetracycline [tet(A) and tet(M)] were most highly abundant across most samples. Samples from feces and meat possessed a higher similarity in ARG compositions than samples from the farms soil. Enterobacteriaceae found on the meat samples were further identical with previously isolated multidrug-resistant bacteria from the same pig farm. Our results strongly indicate that ARGs can be potentially spreading from pig breeding environment to meat via the pork industry chain, such as feed supply, pig feeding and pork production.
Project description:Pork accounts for more than one-third of meat produced worldwide and is an important component of global food security, agricultural economies, and trade. Infectious diseases are among the primary constraints to swine production, and the globalization of the swine industry has contributed to the emergence and spread of pathogens. Despite the importance of infectious diseases to animal health and the stability and productivity of the global swine industry, pathogens of swine have never been reviewed at a global scale. Here, we build a holistic global picture of research on swine pathogens to enhance preparedness and understand patterns of emergence and spread. By conducting a scoping review of more than 57,000 publications across 50 years, we identify priority pathogens globally and regionally, and characterize geographic and temporal trends in research priorities. Of the 40 identified pathogens, publication rates for eight pathogens increased faster than overall trends, suggesting that these pathogens may be emerging or constitute an increasing threat. We also compared regional patterns of pathogen prioritization in the context of policy differences, history of outbreaks, and differing swine health challenges faced in regions where swine production has become more industrialized. We documented a general increasing trend in importance of zoonotic pathogens and show that structural changes in the industry related to intensive swine production shift pathogen prioritization. Multinational collaboration networks were strongly shaped by region, colonial ties, and pig trade networks. This review represents the most comprehensive overview of research on swine infectious diseases to date.
Project description:China's pork industry has been dramatically changing in the last few years. Pork imports are increasing, and small-scale farms are being consolidated into large-scale multi-site facilities. These industry changes increase the need for traceability and science-based decisions around disease monitoring, surveillance, risk mitigation, and outbreak response. This study evaluated the network structure and dynamics of a typical large-scale multi-site swine facility in China, as well as the implications for disease spread using network-based metrics. Forward reachability paths were used to demonstrate the extent of epidemic spread under variable site and temporal disease introductions. Swine movements were found to be seasonal, with more movements at the beginning of the year, and fewer movements of larger pigs later in the year. The network was highly egocentric, with those farms within the evaluated production system demonstrating high connectivity. Those farms which would contribute the highest epidemic potential were identified. Among these, different farms contributed to higher expected epidemic spread at different times of the year. Using these approaches, increased availability of swine movement networks in China could help to identify priority locations for surveillance and risk mitigation for both endemic problems and transboundary diseases such as the recently introduced, and rapidly spreading, African swine fever virus.
Project description:Swine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection in pigs that significantly impacts the pork industry due to weight loss and secondary infections. There is also the potential of a significant threat to public health, as was seen in 2009 when the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus strain emerged from reassortment events among avian, swine, and human influenza viruses within pigs. As classic and pandemic H1N1 strains now circulate in swine, an effective vaccine may be the best strategy to protect the pork industry and public health. Current inactivated-virus vaccines available for swine influenza protect only against viral strains closely related to the vaccine strain, and egg-based production of these vaccines is insufficient to respond to large outbreaks. DNA vaccines are a promising alternative since they can potentially induce broad-based protection with more efficient production methods. In this study we evaluated the potentials of monovalent and trivalent DNA vaccine constructs to (i) elicit both humoral and gamma interferon (IFN-?) responses and (ii) protect pigs against viral shedding and lung disease after challenge with pandemic H1N1 or classic swine H1N1 influenza virus. We also compared the efficiency of a needle-free vaccine delivery method to that of a conventional needle/syringe injection. We report that DNA vaccination elicits robust serum antibody and cellular responses after three immunizations and confers significant protection against influenza virus challenge. Needle-free delivery elicited improved antibody responses with the same efficiency as conventional injection and should be considered for development as a practical alternative for vaccine administration.
Project description:Discussions on farm animal welfare have become frequent, especially in developed countries. The aim of this research was to study the perception of fish sentience, welfare and slaughter by highly educated citizens from Bogotá, Colombia, and Curitiba, Brazil. An online survey with 12 questions presented as open-ended, multiple choice and 5-point Likert-type scale formats was available to respondents. Answers from 395 participants in Bogotá and 387 in Curitiba were analyzed, and results are presented in the order Bogotá followed by Curitiba. The percentage of participants who perceived fish as sentient animals was 79.7% and 71.8%. The classification of sentience perception among taxonomic groups seems in accordance with the phylogenetic proximity to humans, suggesting participants were more likely to perceive sentience in mammals than in other animals. The descending order related to the highest perception of fish suffering in different scenarios was fishing with hook and line (75.6%, 70.6%); municipal live fish fair (68.7%-only in Curitiba); fish-and-pay ponds (59.7%, 54.4%); fish kept as laboratory animals (58.0, 48.1%); fish farming (35.7, 36.8%); fish in pet stores (35.5%, 26.1%); production of ornamental fish (19.3%, 21.8%); fish in aquarium exhibits (18.8%,16.9%); and fish kept as pets (12.4%,12.3%). Lack of knowledge about the conditions of capture, handling, transport and sale of ornamental fish may justify the perception of low level of suffering in the last scenarios. Regarding humane slaughter, 57.0% and 55.0% of respondents were unaware of the issue. After reflection induced by the questionnaire, 76.0% and 72% of participants believed that fish should be included in humane slaughter regulations. This study presents original data suggesting that respondents from Bogotá and Curitiba consider fish as sentient beings. The perception of suffering in specific scenarios challenges common activities. Recognition of suffering also endorses humane slaughter regulations to reduce pain in a large number of individuals of fish slaughtered annually for human consumption in Colombia and Brazil.
Project description:Pork production in China is rapidly increasing and swine production operations are expanding in size and number. However, the biosecurity measures necessary to prevent swine disease transmission, particularly influenza. viruses (IAV) that can be zoonotic, are often inadequate. Despite this risk, few studies have attempted to comprehensively study IAV ecology in swine production settings. Here, we present environmental and animal sampling data collected in the first year of an ongoing five-year prospective epidemiological study to assess IAV ecology as it relates to swine workers, their pigs, and the farm environment. From March 2015 to February 2016, we collected 396 each of environmental swab, water, bioaerosol, and fecal/slurry samples, as well as 3300 pig oral secretion samples from six farms in China. The specimens were tested with molecular assays for IAV. Of these, 46 (11.6%) environmental swab, 235 (7.1%) pig oral secretion, 23 (5.8%) water, 20 (5.1%) bioaerosol, and 19 (4.8%) fecal/slurry specimens were positive for influenza. by qRT-PCR. Risk factors for IAV detection among collected samples were identified using bivariate logistic regression. Overall, these first year data suggest that IAV is quite ubiquitous in the swine production environment and demonstrate an association between the different types of environmental sampling used. Given the mounting evidence that some of these viruses freely move between pigs and swine workers, and that mixing of these viruses can yield progeny viruses with pandemic potential, it seems imperative that routine surveillance for novel IAVs be conducted in commercial swine farms.
Project description:Modern swine production systems represent complex and dynamic networks involving numerous stakeholders. For instance, livestock transporters carry live animals between fattening sites, abattoirs, and other premises on a daily basis. This interconnected system may increase the risk of microbial spread within and between networks, although little information is available in that regard. In the present study, a swine network composed of 10 finishing farms, one abattoir, and three types of stakeholders (veterinarians, livestock transporters, and nutritional technicians) in Quebec, Canada, was selected to investigate specific vectors and reservoirs of enteric viruses. Environmental samples were collected from the premises over a 12-month period. Samples were screened using targeted reverse transcription-PCR and sequencing of two selected viral markers, group A rotaviruses (RVA) and porcine astroviruses (PoAstV), both prevalent and genetically heterogeneous swine enteric viruses. The results revealed frequent contamination of farm sites (21.4 to 100%), livestock transporter vehicles (30.6 to 68.8%) and, most importantly, the abattoir yard (46.7 to 94.1%), depending on the sample types. Although high levels of strain diversity for both viruses were found, identical PoAstV and RVA strains were detected in specific samples from farms, the abattoir yard, and the livestock transporter vehicle, suggesting interconnections between these premises and transporters. Overall, the results from this study underscore the potential role of abattoirs and livestock transport as a reservoir and transmission route for enteric viruses within and between animal production networks, respectively. IMPORTANCE:Using rotaviruses and astroviruses as markers of enteric contamination in a swine network has revealed the potential role of abattoirs and livestock transporters as a reservoir and vectors of enteric pathogens. The results from this study highlight the importance of tightening biosecurity measures. For instance, implementing sanitary vacancy between animal batches and emphasizing washing, disinfection, and drying procedures on farms and for transportation vehicles, as well as giving limited access and circulation of vehicles throughout the production premises, are some examples of measures that should be applied properly. The results also emphasize the need to closely monitor the dynamics of enteric contamination in the swine industry in order to better understand and potentially prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This is especially relevant when a virulent and economically damaging agent is involved, as seen with the recent introduction of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the country.
Project description:Foodborne infection with Listeria causes potentially life-threatening disease listeriosis. Listeria monocytogenes is widely recognized as the only species of public health concern, and the closely related species Listeria innocua is commonly used by the food industry as an indicator to identify environmental conditions that allow for presence, growth, and persistence of Listeria spp. in general. In our study, we analyze the occurrence of Listeria spp. in a farm-to-fork approach in a poultry production chain in Egypt and identify bacterial entry gates and transmission systems. Prevalence of Listeria innocua at the three production stages (farm, slaughterhouse, food products) ranged from 11% to 28%. The pathogenic species Listeria monocytogenes was not detected, and Listeria innocua strains under study did not show genetic virulence determinants. However, the close genetic relatedness of Listeria innocua isolates (maximum 63 SNP differences) indicated cross-contamination between all stages from farm to final food product. Based on these results, chicken can be seen as a natural source of Listeria. Last but not least, sanitary measures during production should be reassessed to prevent bacterial contamination from entering the food chain and to consequently prevent human listeriosis infections. For this purpose, surveillance must not be restricted to pathogenic species.