Pig industry researchers in Australia are claiming major progress and breakthroughs in pig and pork R&D from the first four years of an eight-year improvement programme run by the Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC).
According to the organisation’s CEO, Roger Campbell, improvements have already been made in relation to the welfare and performance of sows grouped in gestation, the development of alternative strategies to improve animal health, disease diagnostics and pork eating quality, plus advancing biogas management and grain inputs.
“Australia’s pork industry and researchers have led the world in transitioning from stall to group housing of gestating sows,” said Dr Campbell, adding that the Australian industry had shown forethought and courage to make the move, with scientists making it work on both a welfare and reproductive performance basis.
Pork CRC scientists are now looking at satiety and enrichment for gestating sows and at the welfare and well-being of sows and their piglets during farrowing and lactation.
“The latter point remains a challenging area,” said Dr Campbell, adding that his unit had put a “very innovative programme” in place to address the issue.
Pork CRC’s work also carries strong support from RSPCA Australia, whose senior scientific officer for farm animals, Melina Tensen, said that thanks to the success of Pork CRC’s group-housing workshops, many pig farmers have now implemented housing and feeding systems with close to three quarters of gestating sows in Australia now being sow-stall free.
Headline image shows Dr Campbell and Ms Tensen