Pork Insight Articles

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Science of Ethology

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Press Releases, Welfare by PSCI on August 8, 2017 | No Comments

The field of Animal Science experienced an expansion of its goals during and subsequent to the 1960s. Much of this shift could be explained by concern over the intensive production practices that had developed. In addition to the goals of productivity and efficiency, issues such as food safety, environmental protection, and animal welfare became issues for the public, and therefore the producer. Animal agriculture not only had to be efficient, but it had to be carried out in a socially conscious manner. Just as productivity and efficiency involved several disciplines, the new goals (impact on behavior and welfare) were also best addressed in a multi-disciplinary manner, including several new ones.not sure about this, can we be more specific?

Ethology, or the study of animal behaviour, has had a role during both eras of Animal Science. As the discipline developed within biology in the mid-twentieth century, its applied component studied means to improve productivity in farm animals. Although a relatively minor discipline of the day, its contribution to animal productivity included reproductive, maternal, social and feeding behaviours as well as environmental control. There were few scientists in applied ethology. In the 1970s only three Canadian universities had agricultural faculty for whom behaviour could be called their primary discipline.

With greater emphasis on social concerns, ethology took on an expanded role, particularly in the area of animal care and welfare. This goal is still multi-disciplinary (see chapter on Animal Welfare Science), but ethology has been the most widely recognized of those disciplines. Much of the work has been to determine how well an animal can adapt to its production environment. In meeting this need for welfare assessment the discipline of ‘applied ethology’ has to some degree become the discipline of ‘welfare science’. Many of its scientists have become proficient, through personal training or collaboration, in disciplines such as stress physiology, immunology and environmental management.

However, the discipline also retains a strong production component. As consumers demand a change in production practices, ethology joins with other disciplines in finding ways to produce efficiently under the new standards. As an example, prod-free handling has become the standard for most situations in the pig industry for reasons of both welfare and meat quality. Ethology has contributed to this transition in management through facility design, handling methods, and training of personnel.

The bulk of this publication is on sow housing and management. Once the industry within a country decides to move to group housing, the role of ethology has been to develop facilities and management methods to ensure efficient production within those systems. Thus we now talk of grouping strategies, mixing vs feeding based aggression, and competitive vs non-competitive systems. All of these are based on behavioural principles.

Impact of piglet birth weight and birth order on subsequent growout performance, carcass quality, muscle composition and eating quality of pork

Posted in: Meat Quality, Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by PSCI on July 31, 2017 | No Comments

This study wanted to answer the questions of:

Does reduced birth weight result In changes In muscle fibre number and/or type?
Does reduced birth weight affect the eating quality of pork?

• As litter size increased, average birth weight decreased
• The variability in birth weight within a litter was unaffected by litter size
• Weaning weight, and weight at 5 and 7 wks post-weaning were unaffected by litter

•Carcass quality was consistent across all groups


Impact of piglet birth weight and birth order on subsequent growth performance, carcass quality, muscle composition and eating quality of pork

Effect of litter size and parity on farrowing room productivity and grow-finish performance

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production by PSCI on | No Comments

Sows that farrowed larger litters weaned more pigs and sent more pigs to the
finisher unit, even though mortality was higher and the average birth weight of these litters was lower.

• Increased litter size resulted in:
– Decreased average birth weight
-No effect on birthweight SD
-No effect on body weight at 7 wk post·weaning
– No effect on carcass parameters

• Decreased birth weight resulted in:
-Increased days to market
– No effect on the lean or fat content of picnic, loin, hock or ham
-No overall effect on palatability
– No effect on carcass parameters

Effect of litter size and parity on farrowing room

Production VS profit- balancing income and expenses

Posted in: Economics, Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by PSCI on | No Comments

Balancing income and expenses
Time line for implementation
• Short term versus long term

Managment and labour requirments
• High versus low labour requirments
• High versus low management requirements

Financial implications
• New capital investment or not
• Increased operating cost or not
• Speed of return on Investment of capital and/or operating dollars

Risk versus reward
• High risk versus low risk
• High reward versus low reward
• Security versus flexibility


ACTION 1- Reformulate diets as required

ACTION 2- Optimize dietary energy level to maximize net income

ACTION 3- Exploit the full diversity of available ingredients

ACTION 4- Gradually convert DE/ME to NE

ACTION 5- Track the implementation of feed budget

ACTION 6- Increase growth through management and capital investment

ACTION 7- Regularly review shipping weights to ensure they optimize net income

ACTION 8- Minimize sort losses but avoid overdoing it

ACTION 9- Optimize sow herd productivity

ACTION 10- Trim inorganic phosphate in the diet and utilize phytase


Production VS profit- balancing income and expenses

Examining energy usage in swine facilities

Posted in: Economics, Pork Insight Articles by PSCI on | No Comments

Presentation overview
• Global energy outlook
– Energy demand trends
– Price/cost projections
– Current consumption patterns
• Swine barn utilities project
– Background, Goals
– Benchmarking
– Energy conservation measures
-Next steps
• Take home message

Examining energy usage in swine facilities

What do we know about feeding Peas, Lentils and Flax?

Posted in: Nutrition, Pork Insight Articles by PSCI on | No Comments

1st message
• Peas have a high NE value
• Pea proteins
– Have the highest lysine content of any plant ingredient used in swine nutrition
– Are deficient In S-containing amino acids and in Tryptophan
• Peas can represent up to
– 30% of the diet of growing pigs
– 40% of the diet of finishing pigs

2nd Message

• Sows can be fed with peas as long as other fibre sources are used in the diet
• Grinding markedly improves the nutritional value of peas in pigs
• Other treatments can also improve the nutritional value but at a lower rate

3rd message
• Lentils have an energy value at least 5% lower than that of peas
• The proteins are lower in essential amino acids than peas and have a lower digestibility
• Freezing before harvest decreases protein digestibility

4th message
• Flaxseed has the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids in the plant kingdom
• The intake of flaxseed Increases the level of polyinsaturated fat In the pig carcasses
• The proteins of flaxseed are deficient in lysine but high in tryptophan
• Flaxseed and flaxseed meal can represent up to 10% of the diet of growing pigs


What do we know about feeding peas, lentils and flax

Impact of Large Litters on Performance and Carcass Quality

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Increased litter size resulted in a reduction in average BW and increased proportion of small (less than 1 kg) piglets as well as a higher standard deviation.

Impact of Large Litters on performance and carcass quality

The problem of constipated barns economics and throughput

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by PSCI on | No Comments

This presentation discusses how to maintain efficiency and throughput in a barn. The summary of this presentation is as follows:

  • There appears to be no advantage to sorting pigs into the finisher, In fact there may be growth performance benefits to not not sorting.
  • Use seasonal variations to your advantage
    • Plan ahead for decreased growth rate in summer
  • Asses optimum marketing weights
  • Maintain health
  • Be mindful of sick pen use
  • Use marketing to reduce stocking density
  • Do not waste time on things that make little to no impact

The problem of constipated barns economics and throughput

Twelve Born Alive: Its not all hugs and kisses

Posted in: Nutrition, Pork Insight Articles, Production by PSCI on | No Comments

This presentation outlines several challenges associated with the 30 piglets per sow per year goal that most producers set. Sow body condition score is critical for maintaining proper lactation levels for a reduced pre weaning mortality. The studies discussed in this presentation focus on the issue of lactation nutrition, body condition, long term productivity and management solutions for optimizing on farm performance.

Twelve Born Alive not all hugs and kisses

Grower/Finisher Feeders: Design, Behaviour and Performance – monograph

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by PSCI on July 14, 2017 | No Comments

Twelve commercial models of feeders were classified into 4 groups: single-space dry (2 models), multiple-space dry (4), single-space wet/dry (3), and multiple-space wet/dry (3) and used as the basis for most of the studies. Feeders that provided less than 34 cm of feeding width resulted in crowding with market weight pigs. However, feeding spaces wider than 39 cm increased the frequency of two small pigs eating
simultaneously. Side panels more than 34 cm long provided better protection to pigs while eating, reducing the frequency of displacements from the side. Small pigs frequently stepped into feeders which were more than 27 em deep (lip to feed), and those from which pigs ate from an angled body position.

The feeders were evaluated for their effects on production traits- average daily feed intake (ADFI), average daily gain (ADG), feed efficiency and carcass quality – of grower/finisher pigs. Each model was used by 4 pens of 12 pigs in 12-wk trials under an incomplete block balanced design. ADG and ADFI were 5% greater with wet/dry feeders than with dry (P<0.05). The effect of wet/dry feeders on growth was only evident during the final 8 wk of the trial (P<0.05). ADFI tended to be higher with wet/dry feeders throughout the trial (P<0.05). Pigs using single and multiple space feeders did not differ in either gain or intake during any of the trial periods (P>0.05). Feed efficiency did not differ among feeder classes. Dry feeders yielded a slightly higher ( 1 %) lean percentage of carcass than did wet/dry feeders (P<0.05).

During the production study, the pigs were videotaped and their eating behaviour analyzed. The total duration of eating varied from less than 75 to over 115 min/day per pig. and the number of displacements (entrances) from less than 30 to over 80 per pig per day. on the different feeders. Large pigs spent less time eating than did small pigs, but spent longer in the feeder per entrance Wet/dry feeders also resulted
in reduced eating time. with an increase in eating speed of approximately 25% compared to dry feeders. Pigs spent less time eating from single space feeders than from multiple space feeders, but this was associated with shorter durations per entrance into the feeder. The combined effects of single space and dry features in a feeder resulted in an average feeder occupancy rate in excess of 80%. which would be higher still for small pigs.

All models were within the range for a feed spillage rate of 2-5.8% of offered feed. The size of pig had an effect on feed wastage. Although large and small pigs spilled the same absolute amount of feed, spillage as a percentage of feed disappearance was greater for small (4.4%) compared to large (2.4%) pigs. Leavage within the feeder was greater for large than for small pigs. The differences between feeder categories (dry vs. wet/dry, single vs. multiple space) were not statistically detectable. The occurrence of feed spillage due to eating, fighting and stepping into feeder was affected by the size of pig (P<0.05).

Two tests were conducted to study the eating speed of grower/finisher pigs. In the first test, hungry pigs were allowed access to each model for a set period of time. Although no differences among feeder categories (dry vs. wet/dry; single vs. multiple space} were detected for eating speed in this test, large pigs ate faster than small ones (P < 0.05) and lever-operated feeders resulted in a lower eating speed than non-lever feeders (P < 0.05). The second test compared eating speeds of pigs fed a fixed amount of either premixed wet feed or dry mash feed. Pigs on premixed wet feed ate about 3 times faster than ‘did those on dry feed (P < 0.05).

Five ergonomic studies were conducted using a specially designed feeder on which the lip height, feeder depth (front to back), width, and feeding shelf height could be adjusted. Pigs were tested at various weights from 22 to 96 kg. The effects of pig size, feeder depth and lip height on the incidence of pigs stepping into the feeder was evaluated. Within the constraints of the experimental design, with limits placed on feeder depth and lip height, small pigs stepped into the feeder more often. The most significant design feature of the feeder for this behaviour was feeder depth. Stepping in was more common as feeder depth was increased, but the point at which it began varied with the size of pig. Grower pigs stepped into a feeder with a depth of 20 em, but large pigs did not do so until the depth was 30 em or more. Lip height had only a minor influence on stepping-in, and only at critical depths that depended upon pig weight. The distance from the toe of the pig to its snout increased with pig weight and was similar to the feeder depths resulting in the lowest frequency of stepping-in. A final factor related to feeder dimensions is the restriction the feeder lip places on accessing feed at the front of the feeder. This restriction decreases as pigs grow, but should be accommodated in feeder design by providing a slope behind the lip of the feeder.

Two studies examined the angles of the body and head while pigs ate. Pigs prefer to stand at an angle of approximately 30° to the feed access, but in restrictive feeders will turn their heads to obtain some angled approach. Pigs also rotate their heads approximately 45-55″ while eating to improve access to the feed.

GrowerFinisher Feeders – Design, behaviour and performance

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