2019 – Manipulating Pig Production XVII





APSA Biennial Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 17th to 20th November, 2019

The 2019 APSA Committee has partnered with Cambridge University Press to have the Conference Proceedings published across two internationally recognised journals. Invited papers appear as a Special Topic in a regular issue of animal (Volume 13 – Issue 12 – December 2019), and extended abstracts form part of a regular issue of Advances in Animal Biosciences (Volume 10 – Issue S1 – November 2019).

Invited papers and extended abstracts from the 2019 conference can be downloaded from Cambridge Core (Cambridge University Press).

Alternatively, hard copies can be purchased from APSA.

A.C. Dunkin Memorial Lecture – Innovation through research in the North American pork industry

Speaker – Dr R. Dean Boyd

This article involved a broad search of applied sciences for milestone technologies we deem to be the most significant innovations applied by the North American pork industry, during the past 10 to 12 years.  Several innovations shifted the trajectory of improvement or resolved significant production limitations.  Each is being integrated into practice, with the exception being gene editing technology, which is undergoing the federal approval process.  The technologies discussed include gene editing for control of PRRS and identification of piglet genome contributions from each parent; post-cervical artificial insemination; provision of dietary essential fatty acids during lactation which ultimately resolved seasonal infertility; segregated early weaning (12 to 14 days of age) for specific pathogen removal for genetic nucleus and multiplication; advances in precision nutrition for growing pigs; and the use of oral fluids sampling and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for pathogen analysis in detecting multiple pathogens in populations of pigs.

Review – Nutrient requirements of the modern high-producing lactating sow, with an emphasis on amino acid requirements

Speaker – Prof Mike Tokach

Sow productivity improvements continue to increase metabolic demands during lactation.  During the peripartum period, energy requirements increase by 60%, and amino acid needs increase by 150%.  As litter size has increased, research on peripartum sows has focused on increasing birth weight, shortening farrowing duration to reduce stillbirths and improving colostrum composition and yield.  Professor Tokach’s review focusses on the changing nutrient and energy requirements of sows during this critical period, with a particular focus on the supply of dietary amino acids (especially lysine) to improve milk protein output and reduce muscle protein mobilisation.

Review – Maternal programming of development in the pig and the lactocrine hypothesis

Speaker – Prof Carol Bagnell

Maternal effects on development are profound.  Together, genetic and epigenetic maternal effects define the developmental trajectory of progeny and, ultimately, offspring phenotype.  Maternally provisioned environmental conditions and signals affect conceptus, feto-placental and postnatal development from the time of conception until weaning.  Professor Bagnell’s review focusses on maternal lactocrine programming of postnatal reproductive tract development in pigs by way of mother’s milk – the “lactocrine hypothesis”.  The importance of nursing from birth on reproductive development and performance is emphasised, with data on both short term effects in the neonate and long-term effects in adults.  These data support the lactocrine hypothesis and milk as a conduit for delivery of maternally-derived bioactive factors driving postnatal development.  Observations to date suggest that lactocrine dependent maternal effects program postnatal development of the porcine uterus, endometrial functionality and uterine capacity, and play a major role in the future fecundity of female offspring.

Review – Kisspeptin and reproduction in the pig

Speaker – Dr Clay Lents

The activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary axis is critical for the initiation and maintenance of reproductive cycles in pigs and is influenced by a number of factors, such as nutrition, metabolism and gonadal steroids.  Kisspeptin is a neuropeptide that is expressed in discrete regions of the porcine hypothalamus and is positioned to mediate the action of many of these factors.  The expression of kisspeptin in the pig hypothalamus does not appear to be regulated by gonadal steroids in the same way as other species.  It is unclear if kisspeptin is mediating nutritional or metabolic effects on gonadotropin secretion in pigs as it takes large deficits in feed intake or BW to affect hypothalamic expression of the KISS1 gene in the porcine hypothalamus.  There appears to be little genetic diversity in kisspeptin or its receptor that is useful for improving reproduction in swine.  Both peripheral and central injection of kisspeptin strongly stimulates the secretion of gonadotropin hormones, LH and FSH, in gilts.  Similarly, synthetic analogues have been developed and showed potential promise as tools to manage reproductive cycles in gilts and sows.  Review of the literature nonetheless reveals that research on kisspeptin and its function in controlling reproduction in pigs has lagged that of other livestock species.

Review – What innovations in pain measurement and control might be possible if we could quantify the neuroimmune synapse?

Speaker – Prof Mark Hutchinson

It has taken more than 40 years for the fields of immunology and neuroscience to capture the potential impact of the mechanistic understanding of how an active immune signalling brain might function.  These developments have grown an appreciation for the immunocompetent cells of the central nervous system and their key role in the health and disease of the brain and spinal cord.  Moreover, the understanding of the bidirectional communication between the brain and the peripheral immune system has evolved to capture an understanding of how mood can alter immune function and vice versa.  These concepts are rapidly evolving the field of psychiatry and medicine as a whole.  However, the advances in human medicine have not been capitalised upon yet in animal husbandry practice.  Of specific attention are the implications that these biological systems have for creating and maintaining heightened pain states.  This review outlines the key concepts of brain–immune communication and the immediate opportunities targeting this biology can have for husbandry practices, with a specific focus on pain.

Review – Precision livestock farming: building ‘digital representations’ to bring the animals closer to the farmer

Speaker – Asst Prof Tomas Norton

Economic pressures continue to mount on modern-day livestock farmers, forcing them to increase herds sizes in order to be commercially viable.  The natural consequence of this is to drive the farmer and the animal further apart.  However, closer attention to the animal not only positively impacts animal welfare and health but can also increase the capacity of the farmer to achieve a more sustainable production.  State-of-the-art precision livestock farming (PLF) technology is one such means of bringing the animals closer to the farmer in the facing of expanding systems.  Contrary to some current opinions, it can offer an alternative philosophy to ‘farming by numbers’.  This review addresses the key technology-oriented approaches to monitor animals and demonstrates how image and sound analyses can be used to build ‘digital representations’ of animals by giving an overview of some of the core concepts of PLF tool development and value discovery during PLF implementation.

Short Communication – The potential of portable near infrared spectroscopy for assuring quality and authenticity in the food chain, using Iberian hams as an example

Speaker – Mr Chris Piotrowski

Recent advances in miniaturisation have led to a significant number of hand-held near infrared (NIR) devices being developed, providing the freedom to use these devices at many different points along the supply chain allowing decisions to be made earlier, significantly reducing time and costs.  Currently the most common methods used for assessing meat quality and authenticity are laboratory analysis of the fatty-acid composition of melted subcutaneous fat using gas chromatography (GC) and DNA genetics checks.  This is reliant on getting a sample to the point of analysis which can be some distance from the slaughterhouse incurring considerable time delays meaning that the carcasses could be processed before the results are available.  Mr Piotrowski discusses a study looking at the use of portable NIR instruments to assess on-site quantitative (fatty acid profile) and qualitative (“Premium” and “Non-premium” categories) of individual Iberian pork carcasses at the slaughterhouse.  NIR calibrations for fatty acids and classification as premium or non-premium based on measuring the carcass fat in-situ were developed using a portable NIR.

Review – Insect meal: a future source of protein feed for pigs?

Speaker – Dr Kristy DiGiacomo

Are insects the farm animal of the future?  The Australian pork industry aims to develop production systems that efficiently use available resources (such as feed and energy) and limit the production of emissions (such as manure waste and GHGs).  Invertebrates (insects e.g. black soldier flies) are naturally consumed by monogastric and aquatic species, yet the large-scale production of insects for feed (or food) is yet to be exploited.  Most insects are low producers of GHGs and have low land and water requirements.  The large-scale production of insects can contribute to a circular economy whereby food and feed waste (and potentially manure) are reduced or ideally eliminated via bioconversion.  While the concept of farm-scale production of insects as domestic animal feed has been explored for decades, significant production and replacement of traditional protein sources has yet to be achieved.  This review focusses on the potential role of insect-derived protein as a feed source for the Australian pig production industry.

Review – Water medication of growing pigs: sources of between animal variability in systemic exposure to antimicrobials

Speaker – Dr Steve Little

On many Australian commercial pig farms, groups of growing pigs are mass-medicated through their drinking water with selected antimicrobials for short periods to manage herd health.  However, delivery of medication in drinking water cannot be assumed to deliver an equal dose to all animals in a group.  There is substantial between-animal variability in systemic exposure to an antimicrobial (i.e. the antimicrobial concentration in plasma), resulting in under-dosing or over-dosing of many pigs.  Three sources of this between-animal variability during a water medication dosing event are differences in: (1) concentration of the active constituent of the antimicrobial product in water available to pigs at drinking appliances in each pen over time, (2) medicated water consumption patterns of pigs in each pen over time, and (3) pharmacokinetics (i.e. oral bioavailability, volume of distribution and clearance between pigs and within pigs over time).  It is essential that factors operating on each farm that influence the range of systemic exposures of pigs to an antimicrobial are factored into antimicrobial administration regimens to reduce under-dosing and over-dosing.

Review – Analysis of the process and drivers for cellular meat production

Speaker – Prof Robyn Warner

Cell-based meat, also called ‘clean’, lab, synthetic or in vitro meat, has attracted much media interest recently.  Consumer demand for cellular meat production derives principally from concerns over environment and animal welfare, while secondary considerations include consumer and public health aspects of animal production, and food security.  The present limitations to cellular meat production include the identification of immortal cell lines, availability of cost-effective, bovine-serum-free growth medium for cell proliferation and maturation, scaffold materials for cell growth, scaling up to an industrial level, regulatory and labelling issues and at what stage mixing of myo-, adipo- and even fibrocytes can potentially occur.  Consumer perceptions that cell-based meat production will result in improvements to animal welfare and the environment have been challenged, with the outcome needing to wait until the processes used in cell-based meat are close to a commercial reality.  Professor Warner’s review discusses the process of cell-based meat production and summarises the significant challenges for appearance on retail shelves.

In addition to the invited papers, a number of extended abstracts are presented on a range of topics including Nutrition and Physiology; Reproduction; Piglet Performance; Production and Nutrition; Health; Nutrition; Food Safety and Meat Quality; and Welfare.

Additional information


Standard, Invited Papers