With the aim of strengthening the local pork industry and learn about best international practices, a delegation of producers, suppliers, professionals, and consultants from Chile and Argentina visited Denmark between August 26 and September 2, as part of the Elanco Team program.

Denmark is considered a major pork producer and exporter worldwide. Although its operation is limited to a relatively small area, the country has managed to become a model thanks to its advanced technology and regulations that balance the needs of the industry and the communities.

The contrast in productive density is considerable: while Chile has about 29 pigs per km2, Denmark houses almost 300 pigs in that same area. Despite the similarities in technology and sustainability, Danish land management regulations set the country apart.

Rodrigo Castañón, ChileCarne’s Business Manager, joined the mission representing the association. “We can summarize the most relevant elements of the trip in two areas. On the one hand, we learned about various initiatives that could be incorporated into our production. Although around 70% of production in Chile uses advanced technology, Denmark is using AI-based initiatives from farm to slaughtering that we could replicate. On the other hand, we have the Danish experience with land use planning regulations that allow the industry to continue existing,” he commented.

Land use planning facilitates the strategic distribution of the pork industry, making the most of the available space and considering geographical and environmental factors that might impact production. The appropriate location of the farms prevents conflicts with residential and conservation areas, and others destined to different uses. Proper planning considers the environmental impact of pig farms, which includes waste management, water sources protection, and biodiversity conservation. For the Chilean pork industry to keep growing and stay competitive, it needs a long term development plan, and land management is a key tool to ensure sustainable growth.

The mission to Denmark had a broad focus. The delegation learned about innovations in various areas, beyond the pork industry. One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to SEGES Innovation’s Danish Pig Research Center, funded by the Danish pig industry. The visitors learned about the industry’s challenges and potential lessons for Latin America.

The European Union ban on antibiotics, a measure being considered by the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), was also discussed during the visit. Topics related to sustainability and animal welfare were also addressed. “Another important issue discussed during this trip was the ban on zinc oxide for therapeutic purposes in Europe as of 2022, an issue that is also being discussed in other markets. We wanted to hear about the experience in Europe and the solutions they have used, to get ready as Chilean industry,” Castañón said.

In the pork industry, zinc oxide has been used in piglet feeding to prevent post weaning diarrhea, a common disease in young piglets. One of the concerns related to the use of high doses of zinc oxide is its environmental impact. Zinc, when excreted by animals, can buildup in the soil and cause harmful impacts on the environment, contaminating soil and groundwater sources over time. Considering this environmental concern and also antimicrobial resistance, the European Union decided to ban pharmacological levels of zinc oxide in pig feed as of 2022.

The South American delegation also met with suppliers of technology applicable in the livestock sector and learned about innovations used in other sectors, such as the use of artificial intelligence for health inspections.

The participants made a positive evaluation of the trip. “ChileCarne recognizes the importance of the initiatives promoted by Elanco. These efforts, which promote technology transfer with global leaders in pork production are essential to keep our industry up to date,” concluded Castañón.