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Clean, green and ethical pig production in Australia

Pluske, J.R. and Frey, B. (2008) Clean, green and ethical pig production in Australia. In: Vadhanabhuti, K., Vercoe, P.E. and Blache, D., (eds.) 'Clean, green and ethical' animal production in Thailand: A Thai-Australian partnership in education. Faculty of Agricultural Technology, Rajamangala University of Technology, Thanyaburii, Thailand, pp. 16-27.

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The concept of ‘clean, green and ethical’ pig production is attracting growing attention around the world as producers, international traders of pig, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of sustainable and socially acceptable animal production systems. While the terminology 'clean, green and ethical' does not lend itself readily to an all-encompassing definition, in pig production it broadly refers to a rearing system with scientifically sound and ethical practices that underpins the production of safe and wholesome pork. Both the physical environment and management of the environment, for example controlling nitrogen and phosphorus emissions, are relevant to ‘clean, green and ethical’ pig production. Outdoor housing systems used in Australia based on litter (straw, rice hulls) portray a more natural image of pig production than conventional indoor housing systems based on steel and concrete, even though many of the same practices (e.g. antibiotic injections) and problems (e.g. enteric diseases) occur in both systems. Animal welfare is also an important and often contentious issue for pig production; evidence of this includes the recent spate of announcements by large vertical integrators in the USA and Canada of plans to phase out sow stalls following intense pressure from animal rights lobbyists. Other factors to be considered in ‘clean, green and ethical’ pig production include Quality Assurance (QA), the ability to trace individual pigs to their property of origin, aspects of pig genetics, the use of feedstuffs free of genetic modification, no hormonal or antibiotic residues in pig meat, and specific-pathogen free herds. Issues associated with antibiotic use are integral to the basic premises of ‘clean, green and ethical’ pig production. Restrictions or outright bans on the use of antibiotic feed additives, as occurred in the European Union from January 1st 2006, reinforce the notion that antibiotics denigrate the notion of ‘clean, green and ethical’ production even though pig welfare is likely improved by their use. This paper reviews the practical approach that Australia has taken to the production of pigs and pig meat that will meet the discerning needs and demands of our current and future domestic and international markets. We have also used some international data and commentary to highlight certain aspects of our discussions.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Faculty of Agricultural Technology, Rajamangala University of Technology
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