Kate Morgan - High welfare systems - Can they meet world food demand?
I am 29 years old and live in the small town of Driffield in East Yorkshire. I am a Director of our family pig farm which has 1700 breeding sows and takes the progeny to slaughter, selling to Sainsbury’s via Cranswick. The whole family is involved in the business, my Mother and Father and also my two older sisters.
I studied at Newcastle University and graduated in 2003 with a 2:1 joint hons in Agri Business Management. After University I worked in marketing but this was not for me! So I decided to do a ski season and then continued to spend a year travelling round the World. I have many hobbies, ranging from Eventing my two horses to playing hockey and running.
Well, driving in Brazil is certainly an experience!! However we have survived, dads certainly wishing we had hired a car with a few more horses under it!! So many wagons on the roads - well can you even call some of them roads?! And it's so hilly, up and down and tight corners, an experience is all I can say! However we arrived safely and met up with Vanessa, a student at the University in Chepeco, her English is very good! We grabbed a shower after our 7 hour journey and went for dinner with her. Vanessa's parents own a Restaurant so we went there, they are such a nice family and the food was great, Vanessa sure has opinions and knows her stuff when it comes to the government etc so it was good to get her view.
The next day Vanessa's Professor picked us up and we went to Aurora, one of the largest slaughter houses in Brazil. It is a Co-Op with 70,000 families involved which has been running like this for 45 years. They are killing 4600 pigs a day 5 days a week with 2406 staff working 24/7 with one of the 3 shifts especially for cleaning. The actual process was very similar to every country except they were stunning the pigs. They used air to get the pigs to move which is the first time I have seen this method used but seemed to work well. We walked round a corridor that overlooked the whole process, a great idea for bio security which should be adopted by other countries.
Next we went to a pig farm in the middle of no where, this was a business run by a few families. The site was quite out of date and to be honest the pigs did not look as well as the others I have seen, they had all the sheets pulled up which resulted in the rooms being stuffy but the farmer said he had to run the rooms at 26 which is far too hot in my opinion. They are apparently changing the whole system and are just going to fatten pigs so a re vamp may be about to happen which I feel is due!
Bio digesters are a big thing in Brazil and seems to work very very well, most farmers have them but very few actually use the heat or gas, they just burn it because the coast of energy in Brazil is very low and some do not warrant investment! Crazy when you think of the prices we get charged!
The next day we went to Embrapa, I guess this is a bit like the old Adas, a research centre for pig and poultry production. We had a great discussion about Brazil and the pig industry, it was great to have 8 people who were very educated about the industry and could also talk English, always helpful! They are working hard on welfare however I still get the feeling that although gestation stalls will become less popular they all believe that there are far more important issues that need to to sorted regarding human welfare before they start on the animal welfare, I can't help but agree especially when I have only really seen very productive and happy pigs!
I then had to give a seminar about our farm and the British industry which was great however I can't help think that they learnt more from me than me from them! But it was great and I did gain information from them, Everyone seems so helpful and friendly I feel that if I emailed any of my contacts in a few years time they would be very promote at replying and go out of their way to help me!
After this visit we lifted Vanessa, who was a great help and I will look forward to seeing her in England. We then set out on a 7 hour drive to Iguacu which I can only describe as an eventful trip!! Starting off by heading the wrong way! Which took us half an hour to realise! Then not being able to find the Brazi Argentina boarder and then being waved through when we eventually found it which we did think was very odd but having tried to stop and still getting waved on we did as we were told, never trust a Brazilian man!! We arrived at the boarder to get back into Brazil and let's just say we needed to do quite a bit of sweet talking to get out of the fine they wanted to give us for entering illegally! Anyway between dad and I we managed to blag our way out of it. Oh and I forgot to say we may of added to to the road kill on the way, we are just not sure what it was we hit, don't worry it was an animal not a human!! Anyway we eventually arrived in Iguacu at about midnight had a beer by the pool where I got totally eaten alive, little did I know it would be bloody painful for the next two days, I have never wanted to cut my legs off before but they were so swollen I thought they were going to exploded, not a great look or feeling however I'm pleased to report they are back to normal size and a little less red!!
We had two fantastic days at the falls and also at Itaipu the worlds largest hydro power station, the size of both the falls and Itaipu was mind blowing, Itaipu is owned half by Brazil and Half by Paraguay, it produces more than 100% of Paraguay's usage and so Brazil buy some off them which then produces 17% of Brazilian usage, a massive plant divided so equally between two countries to the extent that they have the same amount of employers for each country at one time, never more from one that the other!
We were going to return our car at this point no catch the night bus back to Curitiba on Sunday night however we decided we would drive, I have to say it was relatively a dull drive in the near misses sense, in over 9 hours I think we only had a couple of stressful moments and arrived safely back in Curitiba at must after midnight, please in th knowledge we would be giving the car back tomorrow and knowing we were all still in one piece a real bonus on the roads over here! It's back to work tomorrow so ill keep you up dated but I hope I have shown you a little insight into our movements!!