"There are a number of differences
between the pork production systems in the United Kingdom and the
United States," said Vernon Fowler of the University of Aberdeen. He
was a presenter at the June 13-19 Advanced Swine Production
Technology Course that attracted 22 students from the United States,
Central and South America.
A major difference is the end product,
"The pork we market in the U.K. tends
to be what you would call Canadian-style bacon, which is very often
sold with skin on," he said. "Very little bacon is sold that way in
the United States. To do this, our pigs have to be much leaner, and
we slaughter those about 20 pounds lighter than pigs in the United
Boars are not usually castrated in U.K.
swine operations, because the unaltered males tend to grow faster,
finish leaner and develop more efficiently. However, the meat from
these animals can sometimes have an odor that U.S. consumers find
unappealing. In exchange for avoiding the odor, Fowler says, U.S.
producers castrate males and lose a good deal of growth potential.
"The nature of the feed is another big
difference," he said. "In the United States, the swine diet is
pretty much tied to the corn-soybean economy of grain farming. We
have a greater diversity of feeds in the United Kingdom. For
example, instead of corn we might feed any one of three cereals --
wheat, barley, or oats. For soybeans, we might use rapeseed, and we
also use quite a lot of peas and field beans."
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Swine production in the United Kingdom
is also staged on a much smaller scale than in the United States.
"The largest unit in the United Kingdom
might be one with 2,000 sows," he said. "That would be a small unit
in the United States."
Population density in the United
Kingdom also raises the stakes in the handling of swine waste.
"We have a very active 'green' lobby
and a very active animal welfare lobby," he said. "Each has been
successful in influencing regulations."
Swine producers in the United Kingdom,
he said, are not allowed to use sow stalls, a common production
technology in the United States.
United Kingdom as well, producers do not have the ability to use as
wide a range of antibiotics to promote growth as do U.S. producers,"
he said. "In fact, an antibiotic that promotes growth can only be
used with a prescription by a veterinarian. In the United States,
such antibiotics are widely used."
of Illinois news release]