The Australian organisation set-up to conduct research and support the pork industry has claimed it has made breakthroughs in pig and pork R&D in its first four years.
The Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC) has an eight-year term under an agreement with the Australian government.
The research programme, which has been running for four years, will help the key challenges faced by the Australian pork industry. These include the need to maintain local production of high-quality food at a reasonable price and obtain a return on production capital invested, without negatively impacting pig welfare, the environment or the health of the consumer.
Pig and pork R&D
According to CEO Roger Campbell, major progress and breakthroughs in pig and pork R&D were made across all the CRC’s programmes.
“We’ve improved the welfare and performance of sows grouped in gestation, we’re developing alternative strategies to improve animal health, disease diagnostics and pork eating quality, plus advancing biogas management and grain inputs,” Dr Campbell said.
“Australia’s pork industry and researchers have led the world in transitioning from stall to group housing of gestating sows, with industry showing the forethought and courage to make the move and our scientists then making it work on a welfare basis for the sow and in terms of reproductive performance for the producer.”
Its scientists are now looking at the satiety of gestating sows and at the welfare and wellbeing of sows and their piglets during farrowing and lactation.
“The latter remains a challenging area, but we have the best in world working on it and a very innovative program in place,” Dr Campbell said.
Melina Tensen, senior scientific officer (Farm Animals), RSPCA Australia, said: “Pork CRC’s research is essential to the success of alternative farrowing and group housing systems and to farmer uptake of such systems.
“Undoubtedly, thanks to the success of the Pork CRC’s group-housing workshops, many pig farmers have implemented housing and feeding systems that best suit them and close to three-quarters of gestating sows are now sow-stall-free.”
Dr Campbell said that, in the next four years, Pork CRC would address areas across its programs where gaps in knowledge still exist.