News 1 commentlast update:Feb 25, 2016

Norwegians looking for ‘fibre devouring’ pigs

Pigs being fed on rapeseed – can they also thrive? This is the key of new international research, led by Norwegian scientists.

Dutch agricultural newspaperBoerderij Vandaag reports that the Norwegian breeding organisation Norsvin, partner of Topigs, shall develop a pig that is capable of dealing with feed richer in fibre than is the case nowadays. They will do this in cooperation with agricultural industry partners, and several internatinoal academic institutes. Primary thought is to improve the way pigs can deal with rape seed meal. The goal is of using more locally available feed instead of soymeal. An additional goal would be to create animals with a more robust health.

Pigs in 2015 have been developed and bred for a quick growth and high meat quality. Imported soy as protein source plays a major role, but the feed source does not contain many fibres. It has never been the focus of attention which pigs are capable of dealing with feed rich in fibre and which aren't. Nevertheless, pigs just like humans are omnivorous so in theory they should be benefiting from fibres in the menu.

To figure this out, a project has been started with the selection of 20 pigs to see how they will deal with feed that requires more effort to convert. Next, using biomarkers, the researchers hope to find out which genetic traints are especially important when converting fibres. The number of pigs being used in the follow-up trials will be growing once the first shift has been started. It is interesting to observe what will be the variety in feed conversion.

The research will be supported by the Minnesota State University (USA), the University of Western Australia, and the University of Copenhagen. The research should take about four year and will receive at least €5 million from the Norwegian scientific council; coordination will be in the hands of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). This university also includes the research institute Center for Feed Technology, which developed the project's feed.

One comment

  • W J

    There are a lot of small pasture based farms already feeding high fiber diets of pasture. We're already doing what they want to achieve in this study and have achieved it through years of selective breeding for pastured pigs. The sad part is these researchers will probably try and patent the genetic markers. They didn't create the genes. They didn't even discover the genes. They're just naming them. Patents should not be allowed for genetics.

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