The European Union (EU) is the world’s second biggest producer of pigmeat and is the market’s largest exporter. In order to maintain an economically viable and sustainable pig industry, innovation is a key factor. EU PiG specifically aims to more effectively connect producers with the latest science, husbandry techniques and technologies from within their industry via fellow producers, academics and advisors connected through thematic and regional platforms. A unique consortium of 19 organisations has been brought together, representing 13 Member States that together account for 92% of the EU’s pig meat production and 89% of the EU’s pig herd in 2014.
The EU PiG consortium represents a wide range of ‘actors’, including national and regional pig producer groups, researchers, rural development boards, innovation practitioners and SMEs. EU PiG will provide a platform for dialogue for the actors, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and sharing of innovative best practice.
The consortium will collect knowledge and best practices from 4 main themes, namely:
- animal welfare,
- meat quality,
- health management
- and precision production.
Annually a thematic group will select two challenges for each theme to be investigated further. The theme "Animal Welfare" will focus on castration and tail docking. "Meat Quality" will focus on the reduction of boar taint and organisational innovations in supply chains to create more added value and a fair share in the benefits. Water and feed are the two selected challenges in the field of "precision production". Finally, in year 1 of the project, as identified by the industry, the focus for the ‘health’ theme will be on biosecurity and optimising the use of antimicrobials.
In order to collect as many best practices as possible, EU PIG organizes an annual innovation contest called EU Pig Grand Prix.
Each participating country will select three nominees per challenge. The nominees are nominated by a national user group, RPIG (Regional Pig Innovation Group) called. The Belgian RPIG consists of 30 members, including veterinarians, knowledgecenters, universities, agricultural organizations and producer groups.
Across all countries, 39 innovative companies are nominated per challenge. A thematic jury will make a first selection to 5 best practices. The entire European consortium then designates one winner who’s being appointed EU PIG ambassador. In this way, there will be 32 ambassadors appointed at the end of the project.
Do you know or do you have a pig farm that is progressive in one or more of the above mentioned challenges? Let us know and you might be called an EU PIG ambassador in the future.