HSUS Video Decries Efforts to Control PEDv- Animal Health Pros Push Back on HSUS ChargesFri, 21 Feb 2014 05:55:31 CST
The Humane Society of the United States has released an undercover video of a Kentucky swine farm. Not only does HSUS again take aim at the use of gestation crates - the group also accuses the producer of breaking state law by feeding dead animals to mature females.
The U.S. pork industry has been hit hard by a highly contagious and deadly virus called PEDv that has killed millions of pigs in the last 10 months. The farm targeted in the video was fighting the disease and HSUS takes issue with a process called "feedback" to deal with the disease. The intestines of piglets that have died from the disease are ground up and fed back to pregnant sows in order to expose her to the virus so she can build up immunity to pass on to her newborn piglets thus protecting them from PEDv. Another practice that has proven effective is spraying a small amount of diluted feces from an infected piglet onto the snouts of sows.
National Pork Board Vice President for Science and Technology Dr. Paul Sundberg says has been used successfully against other swine viruses since the mid-1900s. He says it's the only tool producers have to stimulate the immunity of the sow. Dr. Rodney Baker at the Iowa Pork Industry Center says it's the humane thing to do to reduce mortality since it's the only way to save a lot of pigs. American Association of Swine Veterinarians Executive Director Dr. Tom Burkgren explains the procedure as speeding up the exposure that would occur naturally over time - providing a much better chance of protecting baby pigs. Sundberg adds that in the natural environment - wild hog sows and those raised outdoors will eat dead baby pigs on their own as a natural protection against virus.
Burkgren was one of four panelists enlisted by the Center for Food Integrity to review the HSUS video and in the CFI report is quoted as saying "Is it better to save pigs' lives and improve their welfare or to say this is too 'icky' and just let the pigs die? That's what it comes down to because there is absolutely no other alternative."
"The disease was unknown in the United States prior to April 15th - it's been here less than a year," said Burkgren. "Federal funding for animal health research is virtually nonexistent. It's almost a perfect storm. This is a virus that was unknown in the U.S. prior to April and the characteristics of the virus don't lend themselves to research and development. People need to ask themselves, what are you more uncomfortable with; truckloads of dead pigs or exposing animals to a fecal slurry?"
Another of the panelists for the CFI report released on Thursday, Dr. Lisa Tokach, a practicing swine veterinarian in Kansas, says that the HSUS claim that sows being housed indoors is the reason for the disease is not true. "Claims that the infection rate is greater on so-called 'factory farms' than on other farms and that smaller farms don't use practices like "feedback" are just wrong," said Tokach. "I work with all sizes of farms and they are all dealing with the same issues. It's just more dramatic when you have 5,000 sows instead of 5 sows."
To read the news release on the report from the CFI, click here.
To see the video as produced by the HSUS, clcik on the play button in the video box below.
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