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:

Washing Procedures: Auditing Best Management Practices – Part 3

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production, Uncategorized by student on August 3, 2018 | 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.


Large group penning with weighing and sorting

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production, Uncategorized by admin on July 13, 2017 | No Comments

This presentation outlines the transition of three farms to a large group system with weighing. Large group housing offers significant benefits in the areas of better space utilization, reduced labor, improved stock person working conditions, and improved ability to select more pigs within the marketing grid core as well as improved economics.

Large group penning With forced welghing and sorting

Tallow and Energy for Grow-Finish Pigs -Monograph

Posted in: Meat Quality, Nutrition, Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Uncategorized by admin on July 5, 2017 | No Comments

This experiment was conducted as a follow-up to a previous experiment conducted at the Prairie Swine Centre, which showed that pigs are able to achieve equivalent performance across diets of quite differing energy concentration. These results flew in the face of conventional wisdom, which suggests that increasing dietary energy concentration, notably through the additional of fat, will result in faster growth. This experiment was therefore conducted to re-evaluate this question, and determine if increasing dietary energy concentration would improve pig performance. The experiment was also designed to evaluate the impact of dietary energy concentration on carcass quality and on the uniformity of growth.

The results of this experiment, conducted on a commercial piggery, confirmed that higher energy diets
can be successfully fed without an adverse effect of carcass quality. Despite the fact that the DE content
of the diet increased by 10%, there was no impact on backfat thickness, lean yield or carcass index.
Indeed, the higher energy diet tended to increase loin thickness. Based on performance, carcass quality and financial return, the lower energy feeding program was once again equal to, or superior to, the higher energy programs. In this experiment, the same energy level was fed throughout; it would appear from the data that the most effective feeding program would be one that employs higher energy levels in the growing and early finishing phases, perhaps up to 80 kg, with lower energy levels used thereafter. This would take advantage of the improved growth on the higher energy diets observed during the first 6 weeks in this experiment, and save money by lowering energy during the final phase of growout, when energy did not elicit a growth response. Since 56% of the feed consumed by pigs on this experiment occurred beyond 80 kg bodyweight, substantial savings could accrue from feeding the lower energy diets after 80 kg.

Alternative Housing Systems

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Uncategorized by admin on June 14, 2017 | No Comments

This presentation shows changes to the barn layout at Prairie Swine Center.

Alternative Housing Systems – B Andries

Limiting Disease Through Genetic Selection

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

Host responses
Selection for disease resistance
• Natural selection
• Genomic selection
Current research
Application of swine genomics to improve swine health and welfare

SkSymp2013 (HARDIING Genomics Health)

Assessing Our Competitive Advantage

Posted in: Economics, Pork Insight Articles, Uncategorized by admin on June 6, 2017 | No Comments

  •  Current industry demographics, age of facilities.
  • How does Saskatchewan and Canada stack up against the competition in terms of costs and profitability?
    • 2014 InterPIG
    • 2014 North American Comparison
  •  Future model for growth
  • How do we overcome any disadvantages, and leverage our advantages to grow the industry?

Assessing our Competitive Advantage – Mark Ferguson, Sask Pork


Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production, Uncategorized by admin on May 12, 2017 | No Comments

The proportion of sows in the breeding herd that fail to remain beyond their third parity can result from single or multiple factors that may interact and lead to culling. Most of the reasons for culling reside in the involuntary category with the leading reasons involving reproductive failure and poor litter performance. Although other issues such as locomotor problems are prevalent, this paper focus’s on reproductive and litter failures, which collectively account for 60% of all cullings. Factors associated with culling alone and in combination with other risk factors include young parity, excessive weight loss in lactation, season, short lactation length, improper boar exposure and single service.

While the causes for each of these failures can be single and in some cases multi-factorial, making changes for increased sow retention past parity 3 will require more detailed information to make advances. Information on the female, her history, recent events and observations from different stages of production would be important for helping troubleshoot problems and minimize problems in the future. While it may not be possible to correct ongoing fertility problems in certain females, it may be most effective to try and prevent similar types of problems in subsequent groups of sows identified for risk of failure. Knowing the risk factors associated with the specific types of failures on farms could help identify factors that can be controlled to reduce the incidence of these types of failures in the future. Treating each case of failure as unique will allow for a thorough accounting for history, and will provide the greatest chance for identifying contributing factors and eliminating these risks.


Posted in: Nutrition, Pork Insight Articles, Uncategorized by admin on May 10, 2017 | No Comments

In pigs, and humans, which have similar GI tract anatomy, by far the largest amount of microbial diversity can be found in the colon. The colon is a specialist organ for microbial fermentation, and in a healthy gut, many of the microbial metabolites produced are beneficial to the host, regulating the immune system and protection from pathogens, increasing the efficiency of caloric extraction from food, and detoxifying otherwise harmful substances. Those who study the human microbiota have begun to understand how diet and the use of pharmaceutical agents such as antimicrobials can radically affect the balance of the gut microbial ecosystem with unintended, detrimental effects. The results of this work are also appropriate to swine management strategies, since effectively managing the gut microbiota of a herd will likely promote great benefits to both animals and farmers.

The gut microbiota is a virtual, but forgotten organ. Studies in humans have clearly demonstrated the importance of gut microbiota to health and well-being, and how dysbiosis within the ecosystem may be associated with a surprising variety of diseases. If a smart approach is taken to modulation of the swine microbiota with live microbes or prebiotic feed enhancement strategies, this may help to improve animal health and product safety, and to reduce farming costs.


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

With traditional, intracervical artificial insemination (AI), 2 to 3 inseminations/estrus period are performed with each AI requiring 3 to 5 minutes. Individual AI doses contain 1.5 to 3 billion sperm cells in a volume of 70 to 85 mL. However, a significant proportion of sows in estrus on commercial farms are now bred 2 to 3 times using post-cervical AI (PCAI) with each AI dose containing approximately 50% of the sperm cells and volume that doses contained previously. With PCAI, semen is deposited just inside the uterus, requiring 10 to 15 seconds.

Regardless of whether intracervical AI or PCAI is employed, proper timing of inseminations is a prerequisite for high farrowing rates and large litter sizes. Reproductive performance in sows is greatest when semen is deposited 0 to 24 hours before ovulation (Soede et al., 1995)


  • The ability to accurately detect estrus, particularly in gilts, is perhaps the most important factor impacting reproductive performance and longevity on sow farms
  • Having a designated person for detecting estrus and breeding gilts has been listed as a key factor in wether or not sows are high or low longevity
  • Estrus can only be confirmed, by display of the lordosis or immobilization response
  • Daily boar exposure (10 to 15 minutes) commenced at 160 days of age, gilts given direct contact with a boar after movement to an estrus detection pen were significantly younger at first estrus (180.9 days of age) compared with gilts given fence-line contact only (191.9 days of age),
  • Age of boars used to detect estrus is important, beginning at approximately 10 months of age.


A new product called OvuGel is labelled for inducing ovulation in weaned sows by stimulating the release of luteinizing hormone. Sows receive intravaginal treatment with OvuGel 96 hours post-weaning, and ovulation occurs 40 to 48 hours after treatment (Knox et al., 2014). Thus, when using OvuGel, a single fixed time AI (FTAI) can be performed approximately 24 hours after treatment. In theory, sows can be bred without regard to estrus.

  • In order for OvuGel to be effective at inducing ovulation, treated animals must have an available crop of mature ovarian follicles.
  • P.G. 600, has been demonstrated to accelerate the onset of follicular growth, estrus and ovulation in sows weaned during the summer (Bates et al., ).
  • After first mating, a greater proportion of control sows (24.8%), compared to P.G. 600-treated sows (12.0%) returned to estrus.
Precision nutrition can significantly reduce feed cost by improving nutrient efficiency and reducing N and P excretion

Posted in: Nutrition, Pork Insight Articles, Production, Uncategorized by admin on May 9, 2017 | No Comments

Precision feeding systems address some of the key issues in today’s intensive livestock farming which are as follows.

  1. Reducing feeding costs by improving feed and nutrient efficiency
  2. Improving production system sustainability by increasing profitability and reducing production footprints
  3. Increasing food safety through traceability
  4. Improving animal health by the automatic monitoring of individual animals and the responsible use of antibiotics

Essential elements of precision livestock feeding systems include.

  • Precise evaluation of the nutritional potential of feed ingredients
  • Precise determination of nutrient requirements
  • Formulation of balanced diets that limit the amount of excess nutrients
  • Concomitant adjustment of the dietary supply and concentration of nutrients to match the evaluated requirements of each pig in the heard

For the purpose of enhancing the Canadian markets sustainability and competitiveness  precision livestock feeding systems are developed to do as follows.

  1. Feeding pigs within a herd according to their individual daily nutrient requirements which:
    1. Reduces feed cost
    2. Reduces feed fabrication, storage, management and shipping costs
    3. Reduces nitrogen, phosphorus and other polluting manure constituents
  2. Managing feeds and animals by advanced computerized technology to:
    1. Allow real time off farm monitoring of feeds and animals for optimal slaughter and production strategies
    2. Reduce labour requirements and costs
    3. Allows early detection of diseases and precise application of treatments causing  improved herd performance
  3. Allows easy application of optimal production strategies with each herd to:
    1. Automatically manage individual feed supply and composition
    2. Facilitate the evaluation of new feeds and feed sub products
    3. facilitate the determination of nutrient requirements

Precision nutrition can significantly reduce feed cost by improving nutrient efficiency and reducing N and P excretion

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