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:


Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production, Uncategorized by PSCI 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 PSCI 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.


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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 PSCI 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

An update on canola meal utilization in swine rations

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Key findings from the University of Manitoba

  • Canola meal can be included in diets for weaned pigs up to 25% without adverse effects to performance so long as the diet is formulated on net energy and standardized ileal digestible amino acid systems
  • Canola meal can be included up to 30% in lactating sows diets without effecting sow and litter performance so long as the diet is formulated on net energy and standardized ileal digestible amino acid systems
  • Dehulled canola meal using sieving technology can be well incorporated into weaner pig diets with improvement in weight gain, feed intake and feed efficiency
  • The composition of the basal diets main ingredients (corn VS wheat) influences feed efficiency in weaner pigs when dies are formulated to contain  high canola meal content
  • several studies show that the standardized total tract digestibility of phosphorus for Brassica napus black and Brassica juncea yellow is 30.7 and 28.3% respectively

An update on canola meal utilization in swine rations

Current strategies and technologies for reproductive management of gilts and sows -Banff 2017

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production, Uncategorized by PSCI on May 8, 2017 | No Comments

Estrus synchronization by controlling the luteal phase of the estrous cycle

  • Accurate daily dosing of altrenogest  with gilts receiving 15mg/day and sows 20mg/day for 18-20 days
  • inaccurate administration leads to an increase in follicular cysts

Stimulation or controlling follicular development 

  • Pregnant mare serum gonadatropin (PMSG) contains the appropriate FSH/LH ratios to stimulate follicular growth
  • Dosing ranges from 500-100 IU

Induction of puberty in gilts

  • PMSG induces estrus in 50-90% of prepubertal and peripubertal gilts within five days
  • The best response occurs when gilts are within 20-30 days of natural puberty
  • 30% do not display signs but do ovulate
  • 30% of those exhibiting estrus have irregular return to a subsequent estrus

Follicle stimulation after estrus synchronization with altrenogest in gilts

  • Altrenogest 14 days followed by a follicle stimulator 24 hours after the last feeding of Altrenogest synchronizes estrus in gilts

Follicle stimulation in weaned sows

  • Triggering follicular growth with PMSG at weaning results in a more uniform population of follicles and increases the percentages of sows in estrus within 5 days

Induction of ovulation

  • Mature follicles are simultaneously induced to ovulate with a gonadotropin of predominantly LH activity

Control of farrowing

  • Successful induction require treatment within 2 days of normal expected farrowing date

Current strategies and technologies for reproductive management of gilts and sows -Banff 2017

Sow Productivity, Farrowing room managment -Banff 2017

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Dr. Egan Brockhoff,

Before farrowing

  • Sanitation
    • Proper selection of detergents and degreasers
    • Focus on fully drying the room

Farrowing, Fostering and Day 1 Critical Care

  • First 4 days are the highest risk period for mortality
  • Colostrum from piglets own mother is critical for the first day
  • Intense observation of climate
  • Quickly identify piglets at risk of falling back
  • Warming and drying piglets is the first priority then minimizing time to the first suckle
  • If the birth interval is any longer than 30 mins piglets should be closely observed
  • Foster litters should be established within the first 3 days

Nursing, Rapid growth and Weaning

  • Success during lactation starts at the selection of quality replacement gilts
    • Body conformation and the number of functional teats are key
      • 14 teats minimum
    • 300lb minimum at second heat to increase litter weaning weights
  • Creep feeding does not improve growth pre-weaning but improves post-weaning performance

Sow Productivity, Farrowing room managment -Banff 2017




Preparedness for a foreign animal disease & Modeling the transboundary survival of foreign animal disease pathogens in contaminated feed ingredients -Banff 2017

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Dr.Chris Byra of Byra consulting gave a speech about foreign animal disease (FAD). FAD can cost industry billions of dollars as demonstrated by the UK’s outbreak of FMD, Byra used this as a basis for his talk.

Components of FAD preparedness

  1. Prevention
  2. Early Detection
  3. Response to a Positive FAD case
    • Critical Areas to focus on when mounting a response
      1. Producers
      2. Processors
      3. Governments
      4. Recovery to Resume Trade

A study was preformed by Scott Dee and his colleagues of FAD  contaminated feeds being transported from China. The focus of the study was to determine if PEDV in imported ingredients would remain viable  during a trans-pacific shipment. At the conclusion of the 37 day shipment PEDV was detected in soybean meal, Vit D, Lysine hydrochloride and choline chloride, however PEDV was not detected in any samples treated with one of the 2 chemical mitigants. This study concluded that certain FAD’s are transboundary risk factors.

Preparedness for a foreign animal disease

Animal Proteins Challenging Role in Feeding the Planet -Banff 2017

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Sandra Vijn offered 3 key ways to reach the goal of sustainability in agriculture.

  1. Engaging platforms and multi-stakeholder initiatives
  2. Improved production efficiency
  3. Engaging consumers

Animal Proteins Challenging Role in Feeding the Planet -Banff 2017

Sustainable Intensification -Banff 2017

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This lecture focuses on production efficiency and GHG emissions, stating that livestock will need to continue to intensify in order to be able to feed the expected population of 9 billion by 2050. Comparing USA to countries like Mexico and India where more animals are needed to produce equal amounts of product Dr.Mitloehner states that the US has fewer inputs and thus fewer impacts meaning that as livestock production intensifies its carbon footprint will decrease. His talk ends with the comment that there are 5 fundamentals for sustainable agriculture. 1.Financial, 2.Animal Welfare, 3.Food Safety, 4.Workers availability and well-being, 5.Environmental. He states that all five are required for sustainable agriculture not just focusing on environment.

Sustainable Intensification -Banff 2017


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