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Repop, research and remodelling in Pig Progress 2

The second 2021 edition of Pig Progress is now available online. This edition unpacks the repopulation of Chinese pig population and discusses its insatiable market. Researchers delve into the emotions of pigs by exploring and evaluation their communication, faces and body language. Also, how and why does gut health rely on early-life nutrition, and how can a pig’s gut health be determined without touching the pig?

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Wanted: Millions of sows for China

China is looking to repopulate its pig herd after half of the country’s 45 million sows were wiped out directly or indirectly from African Swine Fever. The process will be an interesting one, discussed on pages 6-8, as international breeding organisations prepare to claim their share.

In 2020, almost 28,000 great-grandparent pigs were shipped to China, while 5.6 million tonnes of pig meat and related products were imported. Photo: ANP
In 2020, almost 28,000 great-grandparent pigs were shipped to China, while 5.6 million tonnes of pig meat and related products were imported. Photo: ANP

Measuring animal emotions – and why it matters

Researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands are working to better understand and interpret the emotions of farm animals through their communication, faces and body language. On pages 10-12, Dr Suresh Neethirajan offers some valuable insight.

Computer programmes, like WUR Wolf, analyse animal facial features and recognises and evaluates 14 combinations and 7 emotional states of cows and pigs. - Photo: Jan Willem van Vliet
Computer programmes, like WUR Wolf, analyse animal facial features and recognises and evaluates 14 combinations and 7 emotional states of cows and pigs. - Photo: Jan Willem van Vliet

IDA – an emerging problem in pigs

What causes Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA), a growing problem for young piglets, and what can be done to overcome it? The article on pages 14-15 gives a clear answer.

A survey was conducted in 10 EU countries and haemoglobin levels at weaning were assessed. More than 13% of the piglets were found to be anaemic. - Photo: CEVA
A survey was conducted in 10 EU countries and haemoglobin levels at weaning were assessed. More than 13% of the piglets were found to be anaemic. - Photo: CEVA

Non-antibiotic medication against swine dysentery

Although the toolbox for controlling swine dysentery is becoming emptier as the use of antibiotics and zinc oxide are being limited, there is hope in the form of zinc chelate. Read more on pages 16-17.

The difference between using a zinc chelate or not is clear. - Photo: Intracare
The difference between using a zinc chelate or not is clear. - Photo: Intracare

Confirming gut health without touching the pig

A non-invasive monitoring system can be used to gain information about intestinal integrity and the level of immune activity or inflammation. This article on pages 18-19, looks at the system as well as the results of this method in a nursery trial using β-mannanase.

Adding a β-mannanase enzyme led to better weight gain and feed efficiency in pigs weaned at 21 days. - Photo: Bert Jansen
Adding a β-mannanase enzyme led to better weight gain and feed efficiency in pigs weaned at 21 days. - Photo: Bert Jansen

US antibiotics usage: the numbers explained

The use of medically important antimicrobials (MIA) on swine farms in the US has dropped to historical lows following a major directive that came into effect in 2017. There was a dramatic decrease in its use in 2017, but then a significant increase in 2018. Meanwhile, sales of non-MIAs increased by about 5% in 2018. The article by correspondent Treena Hein on pages 20-23 paints a clearer picture.

Clinical professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, Dr Rademacher, believes one of the biggest challenges for many of the bacterial disease problems in US swine farming is the lack of truly efficacious vaccines that could replace antibiotic use. - Photo: Kevin Turner, Michigan State University
Clinical professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, Dr Rademacher, believes one of the biggest challenges for many of the bacterial disease problems in US swine farming is the lack of truly efficacious vaccines that could replace antibiotic use. - Photo: Kevin Turner, Michigan State University

Column: Transition weaning diets

On page 23, Columnist Francesc Molist, who has been working with Schothorst Feed Research in the Netherlands for about 10 years, discussed habituating piglets to solid feed before weaning as a way to reduce the drop in feed intake by weaning pigs.

8 lessons learnt to help beat ASF

The fundamentals of African Swine Fever have remained largely consistent over recent decades. Today, however, we know so much more than we did 30 years ago. On pages 24-25, virologist, Dr Klaus Depner, summarises the 8 lessons learnt to help fight the disease.

Practising good biosecurity is essential to contain the ASF virus. - Photo: Henk Riswick
Practising good biosecurity is essential to contain the ASF virus. - Photo: Henk Riswick

Working together is the answer to eradicate ASFv

Being the coordinator of a European consortium to eradicate African Swine Fever once and for all, professor of Animal Health, José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno, believes cooperation and working together is key. He discusses ASFv with Pig Progress Editor, Vincent ter Beek, on pages 26-29.

Prof José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno was recently involved in the first steps of the development of an oral ASF vaccine for wild boar. - Photo: Suat-Visavet
Prof José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno was recently involved in the first steps of the development of an oral ASF vaccine for wild boar. - Photo: Suat-Visavet

Opening new avenues for pig promotion

South Dakota State University in the US welcomes virtual visitors to come and join a virtual barn tour to look inside their facilities and learn more about the world of sows, piglets and swine diets at the university’s Swine Education and Research Unit. Take a peak on pages 30-33.

Graduate research assistant, Katelyn Zeamer, during one of the virtual barn tours. The National Pork Board arranges virtual tours by reaching out to human dietitians, the medical sector, and people in education. - Photo: SDSU
Graduate research assistant, Katelyn Zeamer, during one of the virtual barn tours. The National Pork Board arranges virtual tours by reaching out to human dietitians, the medical sector, and people in education. - Photo: SDSU

Water-to-feed ratios in growing-finishers

Liquid feed has become a popular method for feeding pigs in many countries in Europe, but many questions have not yet been answered. This article on pages 34-35 offers insights into optimal water-to-feed ratio for improving organic matter and gross energy digestibility, wet/dry feed systems, and advice to pork producers.

Liquid feeding involves blending dry feed with water or a liquid co-product in a central tank before the mixture is pumped to the feeding pens. - Photo: Dr Ramon Muns
Liquid feeding involves blending dry feed with water or a liquid co-product in a central tank before the mixture is pumped to the feeding pens. - Photo: Dr Ramon Muns

Does a lower stomach pH improve performance?

At weaning, several factors, including new feed, can contribute to an increased stomach pH, which can interfere with protein digestion. This article, on pages 37-38, takes a closer look at a a meta-analysis study evaluating the role of a water acidifier in reducing stomach pH and improving piglet performance.

The water acidifier had a significant effect on the growth performance of nursery piglets. - Photo: Dreamstime
The water acidifier had a significant effect on the growth performance of nursery piglets. - Photo: Dreamstime

Good gut reaction relies on early life nutrition

In this article on pages 41-42, Alltech’s Dr Hazel Rooney discussed early-life nutrition and gut health. Establishing a favourable microbial population as soon as possible after birth helps to get piglets off to a healthy start.

Promoting favourable microbial communities within the gut helps to ensure effective nutrient absorption and support the immune system. - Photo: Ronald Hissink
Promoting favourable microbial communities within the gut helps to ensure effective nutrient absorption and support the immune system. - Photo: Ronald Hissink

Mycotoxin transmission from sows to piglets

To determine the risks of mycotoxins to animal health and performance, a recent study measured the mycotoxin levels in colostrum and milk under practical conditions, as well as in the serum of both sows and piglets. This article on pages 45-47 summarises the findings.

The transmission of mycotoxins did not affect the performance of suckling piglets, but an inflammatory process took place. - Photo: Ruud Ploeg
The transmission of mycotoxins did not affect the performance of suckling piglets, but an inflammatory process took place. - Photo: Ruud Ploeg

Linking sow diets to piglet nutrition

Piglets need to be educated to eat their starter feed before weaning, and thus the palatability of their pre-weaning (including sow diets) and post-weaning diets need to be matched. If sow and weaner diets are linked by the same flavour, young piglets learn to start eating like a pig sooner. Read about this relatively new approach on pages 48-49.

A study was conducted to investigate the effects of a flavour in diets of highly prolific lactating sows on sensory imprinting effects on post-weaning performance of piglets when fed either a sweetener or a flavour like the sow received. - Photo: Simon Eskinazi, Adisseo
A study was conducted to investigate the effects of a flavour in diets of highly prolific lactating sows on sensory imprinting effects on post-weaning performance of piglets when fed either a sweetener or a flavour like the sow received. - Photo: Simon Eskinazi, Adisseo

EU parliament decides fate of ‘veggie meat’

Although MEPs were divided on the subject, the recent vote undertaken by the European Parliament ultimately resulted in a decision to not enforce a ban on the use of meat-related names for plant-based substitutes such as “veggie burgers”. Read the analysis by correspondent Melanie Epp on pages 50-51.

The World Resources Institute has concluded that the way foods are named significantly influences their uptake. - Photo: ANP/Peter Parks
The World Resources Institute has concluded that the way foods are named significantly influences their uptake. - Photo: ANP/Peter Parks

A model to adapt buildings to climate

Hotter summers and colder winters can impact pig production and adaptations in terms of barn structure, equipment and management need to be evaluated. A model-based tool for such an evaluation has been developed, named ThermiPig, and is featured on pages 52-54.

ThermiPig was developed to virtually represent the functioning of a finishing room and of a group of pigs reared indoors. - Photo: IFIP
ThermiPig was developed to virtually represent the functioning of a finishing room and of a group of pigs reared indoors. - Photo: IFIP

Building a pork brand, 1 tour at a time

The EU PiG Innovation featured on page 55 is the unique approach of creating awareness through company tours and the sale of unique Berkhout meat with a story.

Doreen van den Berkmortel is the owner of Van den Berkmortel pig farm in the Netherlands. - Photo: Van Assendelft Fotografie/ Ilona Lesscher, Nieuwe Oogst
Doreen van den Berkmortel is the owner of Van den Berkmortel pig farm in the Netherlands. - Photo: Van Assendelft Fotografie/ Ilona Lesscher, Nieuwe Oogst

Column: Mass depopulation

In this column on page 58, Dr Monique Pairis-Garcia discusses the difficult decision made by producers to depopulate livestock farms in 2020.

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