Finding new ways to improve feed efficiency
Topigs Norsvin is starting a 3-year research project to gain new insights that will enable it to improve feed efficiency of finishers. In this project the focus is not just on the individual pig, but also on the group of pigs in a pen; even the microbiome (the microorganisms that inhabit the pig’s gut) will be taken in account.
By taking a broader look at feed efficiency, it might be possible to find new selection traits that will substantially improve feed efficiency.
During the project data will be gathered from over 3000 finishers. In addition to genotyping and performance, the microbiome will be determined. Blood samples will be taken to gain insights into the metabolite and hormone content. Fecal samples will be used to determine the microbiome of the pigs and the efficiency of digestion. Feeding stations will record individual feed intake and cameras attached to the stations will record the weight of the animals. Another set of cameras, placed above the pen, will be used to record the behavior of the pigs in the group.
The primary aim of the project is to find genetics that give the best performance for a group of pigs in a pen. A second aim is also to find out how the microbiome influences feed efficiency, carcass quality, and behavior. A third aim is to find ways of more accurately fine-tuning feed and genetics.
Results of recent research show that the microbiome in the pig’s gut is an important element in the pig’s performance (growth, feed conversion rate). It is also an important factor for the pig’s health, wellbeing and behavior. It seems that genetics, microbiome and behavior influence each other, and together they contribute to high efficiency, high carcass quality and high animal welfare.
Partners in this research project are Wageningen University (the Netherlands), INRA (France), Newcastle University (UK), and Aarhus University (Denmark).