Expert opinion

Swine nutritional questions for 2019 and beyond

New year’s resolutions often appear to be given up quickly, writes swine nutrition technology expert Dr Casey Bradley. Therefore, for 2019, she has formulated longer-term plans. That leads to some promising plans for pigs for the year(s) to come.

There seems to be a trend this year of ditching new year’s resolutions for more personal growth objectives. The thought process around this is that many people give up their resolutions quickly, whereas goals are something you can plan and execute. The goal can simply be that I am going to clean out my garage and get rid of all the unwanted items; which, to me, seems much easier to accomplish than something like “I will not eat ice cream in 2019.”

Time to sit down with a cup of coffee and ask... What can be done better in 2019? Photo:
Time to sit down with a cup of coffee and ask... What can be done better in 2019? Photo:

One of my personal goals for growth this year is to become a better motivational speaker to further promote agriculture and the swine industry in a positive manner. This goal, however, is not simply devoting a Saturday to cleaning out my garage (thanks to my husband I will not need to!). It involves creating a plan and setting realistic timelines. I have enrolled in a programme to help me develop my speaking skills. I am ‘testing the waters’ in one-on-one conversations and meeting event organisers that I could be an impactful speaker for their next event.

New me, new industry, what are some swine nutritional questions that can be used to establish goals and plans to find answers in 2019?

The buffering capacity of diets for young pigs

My 1st goal is to better understand buffering capacity of diets, especially for young pigs. This leads to so many questions! Do we need to understand mineral requirements and inter-relationships better? Are there different approaches to this idea, rather than simply formulating to % or mg/kg requirements? Currently, there is ample evidence to suggest that utilising phytase at higher levels influences more than (the traditional) phosphorus release from phytate.

Furthermore, the digestibility of calcium, sodium, zinc, iron, and amino acids can also be improved. Finding an optimal balance between traditional nutrients and ingredients may improve our ability to feed pigs and achieve their full genetic potential.

More transparency for feed additives

My 2nd goal is for the industry to have more transparency in the modes of action for different feed additives and, therefore, understand better how substances can have additive or synergistic effects. Even though I have spoken to this point in the past, our industry provides relatively little knowledge to help producers understand there may be differences between main effects and interactions among feed additives. Nowadays, more than ever, there are products and companies in the market, with similar and contradictory ‘stories’.

Both nutritionists and producers strive to determine the best approaches for their animals relying heavily on research, experience, instincts and relationships. This seems to me like ‘a resolution’ rather than ‘a goal’. Are there other approaches with in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo studies? Can small scale in vivo screening assays be developed to help improve the results and confidence for the producers?

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Longer-term than just 12 months

As you can see, my personal and professional goals might take longer than 12 months but are achievable with the right plan. I hope that I can accomplish all these goals with the help of my colleagues, friends, and targeted audiences, because I feel that setting goals to solve specific challenges will lead to greater opportunities for our industry and our world.

In closing, don’t limit yourself to only the thoughts of possibilities, instead embrace the opportunities! Create plans and do what is necessary to achieve your goals… and, if I can help in any way, please reach out because we all need someone in our corner!