Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Recent Developments in Nutritional Programs for Wean-to-Finish Pigs

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on August 3, 2018 | No Comments

Authors: Bob Goodband, Mike Tokach, Steve Dritz, Joel DeRouchey and Jason Woodworth

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: Due to the utilization of technology there has been significant improvement in wean-to-finish growth performance. In 1990, pigs grew at a rate of 575 g/day, compared to the average today of 730 g/day. This faster growth rate has resulted in the average market weight increasing from 110kg to 128 kg. As a result, pork production has been able to increase 38% with only increasing the annual number of hogs produced by 10%.

Even though improved genetics and production practices have changed nutrient requirements of swine, when formulating diets to the farms specific requirements the basics still apply.

  1. Determine the ideal energy and density of the diet based on the systems goals
  2. Determine the lysine and phosphorous levels based on a nutrient:calorie ratio which is based on the energy concentration.
  3. Balance all the other amino acids relative to lysine

Due to new statistical modelling techniques, pork producers have the ability to determine ideal nutrient concentrations which are most economically favorable for their farm.


Recent Developments in Nutritional Programs for Pigs

Feeding Hulled or Hull-less Barley Differing in Fermentable Starch and Fibre to Weaned Pigs

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Authors: Lifang Wang, Hao Zhang, Eduardo Beltranena, and Ruurd T. Zijlstral

Reference: Canadian Hog Journal Summer 2018

Summary: Hull and Hull-less barley can be utilized as cereal energy sources in swine, however the chemical composition varies between samples which results in variance within the nutritional value. This variance has the potential to affect the growth of the pigs. Fermentable carbohydrates have the ability to increase hindgut fermentation by microbes through shifting the digestion from the small intestine to the large intestine.

Through this study it was determined that in order to accurately predict growth performance when formulating diets for hulled and hull-less barley it is necessary to consider net energy and digestible amino acids.

When pigs were fed highly fermentable hull-less barley a decreased feed intake was observed. These pigs also have poor feces consistency. These results aided in the conclusion that including highly fermentable hull-less barley should be avoided in weaned pigs diets.

When considering hulled barley, this study determined that hulled barley could be an excelled source of cereal energy when consider weaned pigs. This is due to their feed intake and growth performance.

Gestation Housing Systems: Auditing Best Management Practices: Part 4

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Author: Ken Engele, BSA

Reference: Centred on Swine Fall 2018, Volume 24, Number 2

Summary: At the forefront of swine production is the change to group sow housing. As a means to provide more information to producers and aid them in making the conversion by the 2024 deadline this article focuses on the best management practices in relation to many gestation housing systems.

Nine of the 24 facilities that were audited incorporated group sow housing into their practice. It has been estimated that nation wide 15% of sows are being housed in group housing.

Of the facilities that were audited who are currently housing their sows in a group housed setting two thirds of them have chosen to incorporate a non-competitive feeding system. For those who have chosen to utilize a competitive feeding system have typically done so due to the cheaper cost associated with conversion.

Electronic sow feeding systems are an effective measure for data collection and a herd management tool. An opportunity that electronic feeding systems generally offer is the ability to feed multiple gestation diets through the sow herd. Research has displayed the need for parity specific diets due to amino acid and energy requirements.

For producers who are looking to make the transition to group sow housing there are many resources that they can access. They can go to the website: to find a variety of information.

Demonstrating Water Conservation

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Author: Ken Engele, BSA

Reference: Centred on Swine Fall 2018, Volume 24, Number 2

Summary: Research has demonstrated that even when the nipple drinkers are properly adjusted in a finisher barn the pigs will waste 25% of the water. Water wastage on commercial farms from nipple drinkers has been reported to be as high as 40-60%. A recent audit determined that approximately 2/3 of nipple drinkers provide water volumes that exceed the requirement of the pig, sometimes doubling the required volume.

When considering water conservation, barn evaluations determined that the use of a drinking trough save 60% of water, mainly due to reduced water wastage. The water trough did not impede the performance of the pig.

Potential economic benefits were calculated for a commercial farm that implemented water troughs. Over a 24 week period, water disappearance from water troughs was 20% less than from traditional nipple drinkers. For one year and 170 pigs the difference in water disappearance with a trough set up would be 89,250 L.  As well considering the cost of manure disposal (assuming that the excess water ends up in the pits) there would also be a savings of $343 for 170 pigs.

Advantages Disadvantages
Significant water savings

Reduced manure volume

Installed with off-the-shelf components

Improved biosecurity – less traffic to the barn site

One more thing to wash – corners

Higher potential contamination of water in the trough

The producer who installed the troughs for the purpose of this study will continue to use the troughs due to the advantages of reduced water usage and decrease manure volume.


Washing Procedures: Auditing Best Management Practices – Part 3

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

Author: Ken Engele, BSA

Reference: Centred on Swine Fall 2018 Volume 24, Number 2

Summary: In a swine barn the top usage of water is allocated to animals drinking as well as for the purposes of cleaning. Decreasing water utilization within facilities will aid in developing a more sustainable environment and lower the cost of production.

One aspect that is included in many washing protocols is pre-soaking. Many facilities pre-soak a room prior to pressure washing, however this is not always necessary as pressure washing in a fully slatted floor can be completed without pre-soak. Pre-soaking the room increases the utilization of water. However, when considering partially slatted floors it was evident that an it took longer to wash the room if it was not pre-soaked.

Nozzle selection can also have a significant influence on water utilization. Research has identified that when considering water conservation the use of conventional nozzles leads to the lowest volume of water used, as well as time spent washing those rooms.


The Prevalence and Effects of Mycotoxins in Pigs

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Author: Dr. Max F. Hawkins

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: There is over 400 known mycotoxins that have the ability to negatively impact swine performance. There are many aspects of production which they can influence. The mycotoxin of greatest concern is DON because of its impact on feed intake and its prevalence. However, the negative implications of mycotoxins can encompass more than one mycotoxin.

Not all mycotoxins have dramatic effects, some only harbor subtle effects. A method has been developed by Alltech to assess the level of mycotoxin present in feedstuff. The method accounts for all the mycotoxins present, places a value and sums the value to calculate the Risk Equivalent  Quantity (REQ).

Lowering feed costs is continually a concern at the forefront of production, resulting in a greater utilization of by-product ingredients. Processed grain by-products, such as DDGS, concentrate the mycotoxin present into a smaller mass. This results in DDGS generally containing three times the concentration of mycotoxins than the original grain. The product may result in a cheaper diet, but also increases the concentration of mycotoxin in the diet.

When considering the risk of mycotoxin, it has been defined as the amount of mycotoxin that can be consumed without seeing a dramatic effect. However, research has displayed that smaller quantities of mycotoxin can have subtle effects on swine implying that maximum utilization may not be an ideal method.

Mycotoxin effects can also be affected through management, environment and pig health status. Low risk mycotoxins can still harbor a negative impact towards the performance of the pig, ultimately resulting in less economic gain.

The Prevalence and Effects of Mycotoxins in Pigs

What Shapes the Piglets Microbiota at Weaning and How it Prepares the Piglet for Disease Challenge

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Authors: Benjamin P. Willing and Janelle M. Fouhse

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017

Summary: Antibiotics have been used for a significant amount of time to control the bacterial population of the gastrointestinal tract of pigs, in an effort to increase growth and reduce disease. The pressure to reduce antibiotic use has increased interested in the advantage of microbiota as a disease resistant mechanism.

Microbiota will colonize the piglet unless it has been born through caesarean section and raised in an isolator. When analyzing the benefits of microbial colonization, it is evident that not all microbes are equally beneficial. It has not been clearly defined the extent of the role that microbial consumption plays in immune function development, however it is said to play an important role. Rearing piglets in an environment that reduces exposure to adult microbiota displayed a reduced immune development and impaired ability to tolerate infection.

When disease challenge is not present, pigs that are deficient of immune system will grow more efficiently than those with a fully functional immune system. However, with the pressure to remove antibiotics from production it is extremely important to develop robust pigs. The development of robust pigs could likely come at the cost of feed efficiency.

Factors that shape microbiota at weaning are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Milk composition and the nursery diet
  • The sow and the environment
  • The sow diet
  • Sow probiotics

More research is needed in order to identify the ideal characteristics and/or composition of the piglet microbiota at weaning to be defined.

What Shapes the Piglet Microbiota

Low Cost Feeding Strategies in Nursery Production – Feeding Simplified Diets with Feed Enzymes

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on July 26, 2018 | No Comments

Authors: B. Koo, and C.M. Nyachoti

Reference: Canadian Hog Journal Summer 2018

Summary: Highly palatable and digestible ingredients are utilized in nursery pig diets in order to minimize the post weaning challenges. This helps to reduce impaired gut morphology and high incidences of diarrhea. However, in exchange their is a greater cost associated with the diet. As a result, this study looked at potentially including low quality alternatives to conventional ingredients with the hope of not affecting the growth performance of the piglet.

When comparing the different diets it was identified that there was no apparent difference in average daily gain between newly weaned pigs over the course of a four week experiment period. However, there was a different during the first week post weaning as the conventional diet supported superior growth during this time. During the four week observation period it was noted that pigs that were fed the simple diet had better feed efficiency than those that were fed the conventional diet.

Feeding the simple diet did have significant effects on the overall cost of the diet.

Low Cost Feeding Strategies in Nursery Production – Feeding Simplified Diets with Feed Enzymes

The Future of Agriculture: Challenges, Threats, Barriers and Opportunities – Banff 2018

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Author: Steven D. Savage

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018



  • Global demand for food will be increasing significantly
  • Declining expertise
  • Social license challenges: the concept that focuses on how societal pressures, permissions and perceptions influence the ability of a give industry to do what they need to do to succeed

How is social license posing a challenge

  1.  Direct involvement is decreased
  2. Decreasing public investment
  3. Little understanding of the influence of science based regulation on safety and sustainability of agricultural systems
  4. Some regional regulations are highly influenced by politics
  5. Widespread mistrust in the food system
  6. Subset of food companies that use aggressive, negative and inaccurate descriptions of their competitors


  • Communications; ability to advocate for agriculture and “debunk” myths
  • Confrontation
  • Competition
Optimizing Concrete Slat and Gap Widths for Group-Housed Gestating Sows

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Authors: Laurie Connor, Nicolas Devillers and Qiang Zhang

Reference: Canadian Hog Journal Summer 2018

Summary: Pen flooring is one aspect that is critical for sow management with the transition to group housings. Currently. concrete slatted floors are commonly utilized in sow housing as they allow effective drainage of manure increase they hygiene of the barn. However. slatted floors can also affect they well being of the sows as they affect permeability and thermic properties of the floor. Musculoskeletal issues, such as lameness and hoof an claw injuries are a major reason for culling in group housed sows, these injuries can increase with an increased gap width. There are also negative aspects of too narrow of a gap width, including inability of the manure to pass through the slats. This research focused on the most effective slatted flooring for the comfort and wellbeing of the sow.

Initially, this studied focused on the slat and gap widths that allowed for the least change in the sow gait, for this they utilized nine different flooring configurations. The study then assessed lameness, hoof lesions, weight distribution and postural behavior twice through gestation and recorded videos three times throughout. The study also recorded the performance of the sow in terms of body condition and reproductive performance.

In addition to the implication that the flooring had on the pigs, this study also focused on the implications for pen cleanliness and animal cleanliness.

As a results, this study concluded that wider gap width displaced more alteration in gait parameters. The best flooring design determined by this study was that of a slat width of 105 mm and a gap width of 19mm.

Optimizing Concrete Slat and Gap Widths for Group-Housed Gestating Sows

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