Free range livestock production compromises food security, according to a Sask. researcher

Free range livestock production compromises food security, according to a Sask. researcher
Nov 17, 2017

Modern livestock housing reduces the chances of livestock illness, says Dr. Susan Detmer

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Free range livestock production may not be the best way to ensure a safe food supply, according to Dr. Susan Detmer, a veterinary pathologist specializing in swine with the University of Saskatchewan.

“A lot of our modern production practices that we use in North America actually have eliminated a number of the disease risks that you can see in underdeveloped countries,” she told Farmscape today. “The reason why we do things the way we do is to reduce disease and it’s to protect the consumer because the consumer wants a wholesome and safe product in the end.”

One specific example is Taenia solium, also known as pork tapeworm.

Approximately 1,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. annually for pork tapeworm, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This disease [AG1] is also responsible for approximately 30 per cent of epilepsy cases in areas where roaming pigs live close to humans, according to the World Health Organization.

The tapeworm can infect humans if they eat undercooked or infected pork. And the tapeworm can cause seizures if it enters the body’s nervous system.

If farmers keep their pork in safe, controlled environments, the chances of the animal and the consumer becoming infected with tapeworm is significantly reduced, Detmer says.

“We don’t see (tapeworm) here (much), because our pigs are indoors (and) we keep them on either slatted floors or cement floors,” she told Farmscape. “We have rodent control so that our animals are not getting in contact with wild animals or rodents.

“When you remove some of those barriers, such as putting a pig out on the soil where they can get in contact with a feral pig which is carrying diseases that we’ve eliminated from our herd, that risk increases.”

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