APSA Biennial Conference, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 25th to 28th November 2007
The biennial conference of APSA has established itself as an important international conference for pig science. The 11th conference attracted almost 300 delegates, many from the Asia Pacific region, and represented a mix of scientists, consultants, industry and producers. An important feature of the APSA conference is that it covers all disciplines, and by not having concurrent sessions gives all attendees the opportunity to familiarise themselves with recent developments in both their own area of interest and others. The conference combines a series of reviews, symposium and short presentations, and the 240-page refereed proceedings, which includes 90 1-page papers of unpublished research findings, has become an important reference for pig science and development.
Dr Ian Williams from the University of Western Australia was given the honour of opening the conference by presenting the Dunkin Memorial Lecture, in memory of the late Mr Tony Dunkin who was one of the first people to establish a post-graduate training program in pig science in Australia in the late 1960’s. Ian’s paper highlighted some of the concerns about the changing world of science and how it was important for groups like APSA to maintain high standards of scientific communication through refereed written papers and oral presentations.
Pork product development
Product development and innovation have become crucial to the growth of the meat industry. In a review paper, Drs Heather Channon and Darryl D’Souza highlighted the importance of understanding and targeting consumer perceptions and preferences. A good example is the ‘New Fashioned Pork’ promotional campaign launched in Australia in 1982, which by lowering the fat content of pork products met the ‘health needs of consumers’, yet failed to meet their expectations for eating quality. While domestic consumption of pork has improved in recent years in Australia, consumer research indicates that pork still compares poorly to its competitors: chicken, beef, lamb and fish.
Moisture infusion (MI), by the application of functional ingredients in the brine solution to fresh pork, provides pork companies with a way to improve the overall eating quality of the final cooked product, particularly juiciness and reducing the variation in tenderness. The introduction of flavourings with MI pork is a relatively new area for pork, but has been common practice of the fresh chicken industry for many years. This area was considered by the authors to offer great potential for increased sales of high quality pork products.
Three major trends influence consumers’ food choices – convenience, health and wellbeing, and indulgence or personal satisfaction. Lean pork is a good source of many nutrients, but the authors identify several opportunities for further improving the nutritional value for consumers. However, the failure rate for new products on consumer food markets is somewhere between 60 and 80%, and while there are significant opportunities for new pork products it is envisaged that new development will require significant market research to determine consumer needs and the new pork products that will meet those needs.
Net energy systems for pigs
Organisations within Australia, Canada, parts of the EU, and the USA have been struggling with a decision about the introduction and full adoption of the developed NE system. Dr Rurrd Zilstra from the University of Alberta, Canada, suggested that the advantages of the NE system are related to: 1) ensuring consistent growth performance and likely carcass quality, 2) managing the risk of inclusion of alternative feedstuffs and co-products into pig diets, and 3) reductions in feed costs per kg of feed or lean gain.
This review describes the differences between the main energy evaluation systems, and highlights the advantages of the NE system relative to the DE and ME systems for feed formulation, feedstuff selection and reduced feed costs. Critical steps and a suggested action plan for implementing the NE system is provided in this comprehensive review.
In this review Dr Mersmann outlined the actions of oral beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, such as ractopamine and how these agonists can be used to improve pig productivity. Through the review, Dr Mersmann showed how in pigs, beta-adrenergic agonists have been shown to increase growth rate and deposition of skeletal muscle while reducing the proportion of carcass fat. However, the effect of beta-adrenergic agonists decreases over time.
Effluent management of pig production
There has been a vast increase in community interest and awareness in recent times of issues related to protection of the environment. At the same time, consumers are also demanding that their food meets strict safety standards and that it is produced in a ‘clean, green’ manner without adversely affecting the environment or breaching animal welfare considerations.
This symposium provides three examples of how industry and government have addressed key environmental issues facing the industry. Firstly, using scientific research to evaluate the risk posed to human and animal health by the range of pathogens that are likely to be present in pig waste products; secondly, the quest for better, more cost effective ways to manage effluent, resulting in reduced pond sizes, easier de-sludging and better utilization of nutrient resources; and thirdly, exploring the scope for trialling and implementing new and innovative management practices within a highly regulated pig industry.
Gut health in the pig
Dr John Pluske, Murdoch University, Western Australia, and Dr Colm Moran, Alltech Bioscience Centre, Ireland, begin their paper by defining ‘gut health’ as describing a generalised condition of homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the pig. Diseases and conditions of the GIT that can cause economic loss have generally been controlled by the use of dietary antimicrobial compounds, such as antibiotic feed additives and/or minerals such as copper and zinc. However, implementation of legislation in some parts of the world has caused a reassessment of measures to influence health of the GIT. Unfortunately the factors and conditions involved in ‘gut health’ are multifactorial, complex, and currently poorly understood and sometimes incorrectly interpreted.
This paper considers the factors that influence the microbiota in the GIT, the barrier function of the GIT and the possible mode of action for products such as zinc oxide. It also discusses the question “Can nutrition of the suckling piglet influence gut health and lifetime performance?”. A comprehensive list of the alternatives to subtherapeutic antibiotics in animal production is given, and the steps involved in the design and production of the next generation of growth promoters is described.
Placental efficiency and consequences for pig productivity
Uterine capacity has been used to describe the number of conceptuses that can be gestated until the term of gestation. There has been widespread acceptance of the concept that ovulation rate and uterine capacity are the two major determinants of litter size. Dr Matthew Wilson from West Virginia University introduced the concept of placental efficiency as a novel component of litter size and how it may impact on both postnatal survival and growth. Placental efficiency is described as the weight of the neonate (or foetus) divided by the weight of the placenta.