Trouw Nutrition has added a new barn to its Swine Research Centre in the Netherlands, which allows the company to do nursery pig research under several climatic conditions.
The official opening was on Tuesday, January 18, 2021 during a webinar, including a digital tour through the new unit and various talks by company executives. The virtual ribbon was cut by Saskia Korink, CEO of Trouw Nutrition.
The so-called ‘Swine Nutrition & Health Unit’ is the latest addition to the company’s Swine Research Centre near Boxmeer, the Netherlands. The new unit, constructed in 2020, consists of 4 identical rooms, which are both health and climate controlled. Individual monitoring and of feed and water intake is possible.
Aerial view of the Swine Research Centre, where the new unit is highlighted. - Photo: Trouw Nutrition
The key feature is the fact that any condition from around the world can be simulated. In order to make sure that each room can have its own climate zone, each of the 4 rooms is equipped with its own ventilation system. That is also to prevent cross-contamination and to reduce emissions and odours.
Flexibility in pig study design
A video, shown during the webinar, explains that the new unit increases the company’s flexibility in study design. For instance, it can now replicate environmental conditions, including heat stress, or for nutrition and health compromised studies.
Grego Bekke, director feed additives, explained at the webinar, “We are selling products to more than 100 countries. So having a unit where we have opportunities to do disease challenges but also simulate local circumstances will really support the development of our new products and concepts.”
Coen Smits, director Trouw Nutrition R&D added that, should an experimental trial in the new unit provide hopeful outcomes, then next steps could be to have tests at commercial validation farms, in higher numbers, at various locations all over the planet. That ensures that the products and concepts are tested under local conditions as well.
Video still of the virtual tour of the new unit, showing the wide aisles. - Photo: Trouw Nutrition
Water and feed monitoring
A virtual tour inside the new unit showed that it has, like all others on the farm, its own shower facility and dedicated footwear. The 4 rooms are equipped with in total 40 elevated pens, with a maximum of 3 pigs per pen until 50kg.
The pens have troughs that can be easily emptied for feed estimation and ease of cleaning. Water intake during water treatment studies can be monitored as nipple drinkers are linked to individual water reservoirs in the ceiling. The video also showed wide aisles, which allows equipment like pig weighting scales, to be easily trucked through.
More pig barns in the research farm
The entire Swine Research Centre consists of a sow research unit, a nursery pig research facility, and a finishing pig research unit. On top, there is an auditorium for science meetings, a temporary residence as well as the calf and beef research facilities.
The facility is part of the company’s mission – how to feed the growing world population in a sustainable way? In nutrition, that translates in a focus on animal nutrition without the usage of antibiotics and zinc oxide as well as a focus on feed for early life. In research, the company also focuses on precision farming.