APSA Biennial Conference, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 24th to 27th November, 2013
APSA’s 2013 conference highlighted the recent advances in pig science from within Australia and around the globe. The conference hosted over 300 delegates, with many from Asia, NZ, North America and Europe. More information, reviews and symposia from Manipulating Pig Production XIV will follow after the conference.
Speaker: Dr Paul Hemsworth
The role of science in establishing animal welfare recommendations and standards
The animal welfare movement is increasingly influencing views on animal use and the acceptability of various animal management options. While consumer and public attitudes to animal welfare are likely to be influential in determining society’s use of domestic animals, science has a critical role in underpinning governments’ decisions, on behalf of the community, on animal use and the attendant conditions and compromises.
Ultimately the question of whether a specific animal use is acceptable is an ethical one, in which science can provide facts that need to be utilised to provide a rational answer. Science provides the means to understand the impact of animal use on the animal and should continue to have a prominent role in underpinning our decisions on animal use and the attendant conditions and compromises. The exclusion of science will result in emotive or self-interested arguments from sectional interests dominating community debate. This is not to say that people’s emotional responses are not relevant to the debate. Indeed such responses reflect, in part, current community values; however, they should contribute to, not pre-empt, the debate.
This presentation considers recent achievements as well as challenges in improving pig welfare with an emphasis on the role of science in genuinely improving animal welfare.
Speakers: Dr Adam Moeser (North Carolina State University) and Dr Jae Kim (DAFWA)
Barrier function and systemic response of the gastrointestinal tract to the aspects of management and nutrition.
Gastrointestinal barrier function can be significantly compromised at all stages of the production cycle due to subclinical infection and/or physiological and psychological stressors that exist in most commercial pig production facilities.
Dr Adam Moeser and his colleagues at North Carolina State University have recently documented negative impacts of physiological and psychological stressors on gastrointestinal barrier function in the weaning period using a range of molecular and cellular techniques. Dr Moeser’s paper and presentation will outline these changes and highlight the importance of management and nutrition specifically to gastrointestinal barrier function.
Dr Jae Kim (Department of Agriculture and Food WA) will discuss the impact of the systemic response to stressors and subclinical infection on growth and intestinal barrier function. Roles of nutrition and individual nutrients to counteract altered nutrient partitioning and eicosanoids pathway under systemic response will be covered.
Speakers: Dr Geroge Foxcroft (University of Alberta) and Dr Ron Ball (University of Alberta)
Maximising productivity in the modern sow: Constraints to realising the genetic potential of the breeding herd and targeting nutrition for optimal productivity
Maximising productivity of the sow herd is a critical driver in commercial pork production. Genetic selection has driven significant improvements in sow prolificacy and productivity over the years with further gains possible through the use of targeted selection pressures and nutritional programs.
Dr George Foxcroft, Professor Emeritus Swine Reproductive Physiology at the University of Alberta will discuss his views on the current constraints to realising the genetic potential of the breeding herd, focusing on strategies to close the gap between the genetic potential of breeding stock and the realised value in the progeny being produced.
Dr Ron Ball, Professor Emeritus of Swine Nutrition at the University of Alberta will present recent research on the energy and amino acid requirements of the modern or “prolific” sow and propose a targeted nutritional program to optimise lifetime performance of sows and their offspring.
Speakers: Dr Jeff Zimmerman (Iowa State University) and Dr Peter Scott (Scolexia Animal and Avian Health Consultancy)
Monitoring herd heath and immunity
Preventative health programs in pig herds including vaccination, husbandry and diagnostic surveillance have been perceived to be costly relative to antibiotic treatment costs. Production data and clinical signs have been used to monitor herd health, with laboratory diagnostics restricted to individual animals, targeted population groups or pooled samples. New health programs and diagnostic methods are needed to maintain and monitor herd health in the future where the reliance on antibiotics must be reduced. Dr Jeff Zimmerman from Iowa State University will present his research on the use of oral fluids collected from groups of pigs to provide cost-effective surveillance of both disease and immunity at the herd level.
Dr Peter Scott, from Scolexia Animal and Avian Health Consultancy will present research on managing flock health by focusing on biosecurity in breeder flocks, vaccination and monitoring the immune response to vaccination in the poultry industry that has successfully reduced its reliance on antibiotics, and will examine opportunities where the pig industry can do the same.
Speakers: Dr Sasha Jenkins and Dr Damien Batstone
Genomic approaches for characterising and quantifying microbial communities to the benefit of the pig industry – an environmental perspective
Dr Sasha Jenkins
The advert of genomic approaches for the identification and quantification of DNA and RNA in microbiology has significantly improved our understanding of microbial diversity and function in both natural and engineered environments. Recently, technology gains in these areas have the potential to lead to more sustainable waste and environmental management practices within the pork industry through improved understanding, diagnostic tools, treatment and mitigation.
Dr Damien Batstone
Anaerobic digestion is one of the best ways to generate renewable energy, treat waste water, reduce carbon emissions, and generate additional value from a variety of modes of pig rearing. This has been enhanced by publication of a range of CFI methodologies specific to piggeries, as well as better tools for project feasibility analysis. Engineered digesters and covered anaerobic lagoons are popular for intensive pig rearing, and new technologies are emerging for conversion of spent litter to methane. In this presentation, we will provide Australian specific results that assess the different options available, based on results from a variety of Australian Pork Limited and Pork CRC projects. In particular, we show that for intensive piggeries, methane production depends heavily on pig rearing stage, and provide methods to analyse engineered vs lagoon based digestion. This extends to litter based pig rearing, with analysis of the impact of litter material and its application to the emerging option of leach bed anaerobic digestion.
Speakers: Dr David Pethick (Murdoch University) and Prof Robert van Barneveld (Barneveld Nutrition Pty Ltd)
Delivering Science for maximum industry benefit
There is a need for today’s scientist to work closely with industry to ensure that we, the R&D community, are addressing industry issues and ensuring that research outcomes and technologies are appropriately transferred and adopted by industry.
The authors bring many years of industry R&D experience, but from two vastly different research environments. Dr Dave Pethick is a leading animal biochemist, and while university based, has established close working relationships with the lamb and beef industries. Prof Robert van Barneveld has successfully combined his commercial nutritionist roles with undertaking innovative R&D for the pork industry.
This review will examine issues faced within each research environment in working with industry; balancing the need for scientific rigour with applied and commercially applicable R&D; and the impact the work of these two leading scientists has had on the industries they advocate. A timely reminder that our research needs to be relevant and we must work with industry if we’re to have a future in pork industry R&D.