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  • News

    SIP Community Wire Discover news from the Canadian pork research community. Find bite-sized updates and exclusive interviews with leading researchers and industry professionals. Synthetic Sugar Based Vaccine Offers Prospects for Broader Protection for Pigs from Strep Suis 15 Sept 2023 Synthetic Sugar Based Vaccine Offers Prospects for Broader Protection for Pigs from Strep Suis Latest Article Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk discusses a new approach to the development of vaccines to prevent Strep suis. Read More Filter by Topic More News Animal Health Consumers Economics Nutrition Other Sustainability 11 Aug 2023 Nutrition, Animal Health Scientists Seek Alternatives to Antibiotics for Growth Promotion Button 6 Jun 2023 Sustainability Survey Shows Improved Pork Production Efficiency and Reduced Environmental Footprint Over 30 Years Button 26 Jul 2023 ​ Surprising Discoveries Could Lead to New Antiviral Drugs to Combat PRRS Button 21 Apr 2023 Other VIDO Updates Progress on Two Subunit Candidate COVID-19 Vaccines Button 5 Jul 2023 Nutrition Canadian Scientists Evaluate Alternative Feeding Supplements Button 20 Apr 2023 Economics Return-on-Investment Study Demonstrates Pork Sector Research Pays for Itself Button 1 2 1 ... 1 2 ... 2

  • Synthetic Sugar Based Vaccine Offers Prospects for Broader Protection for Pigs from Strep Suis

    < Community Wire Next Article> Synthetic Sugar Based Vaccine Offers Prospects for Broader Protection for Pigs from Strep Suis Bruce Cochrane 15 Sept 2023 Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk discusses a new approach to the development of vaccines to prevent Strep suis. 00:00 / 02:44 Farmscape for September 15, 2023 A never before used approach to the creation of vaccines in veterinary medicine, developed in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc, offers the prospects of more effective protection for pigs from infections caused by Streptococcus suis . Strep suis is a bacterial agent that causes different diseases, mostly in nursery pigs, including septicemia with sudden death, meningitis which affects the central nervous system or arthritis impacting the joints. With funding from Swine Innovation Porc, scientists are exploring novel methods of vaccine development. Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk, the Director of the International Reference Laboratory for Streptococcus suis at the University of Montreal, says two different but complementary approaches have been taken. Quote-Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk-University of Montreal: What has been done is an approach to identify a protein which is present in the surface of the bacteria. We have identified one of these proteins, which is called SAO, Streptococcal Antigen-1 and this antigen has been proved to give a certain level of protection against infection, so the idea is to complement that with another kind of candidate. What we have done is to use synthetic sugars. Strep suis is surrounded by what we call a capsule which is a kind of armor that will envelope the bacteria and protect the bacteria against the immune system. This capsule is made by sugars, only sugar, and sugars are very bad to induce good antibody production. The host, the pig doesn't see the bacteria when the bacteria enters because it's covered by the sugars. We've demonstrated in the past that, if we take the sugars from the capsule and we link it to a protein, then the immune system can see the sugar and produce antibodies. Dr. Gottschalk acknowledges, while linking sugars from the capsule to a protein empowers the immune system to respond, these extracted sugars are too expensive to use as a vaccine so researchers have shifted their focus to the development of synthetic sugars. For more visit Farmscape.Ca . Bruce Cochrane. *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers < Community Wire Next Article >

  • Calls for Proposals | Swine Innovation Porc

    CALLS FOR PROPOSALS All calls for proposals are now closed. Please join our mailing list to be notified when our next call opens up. PREVIOUS CALLS FOR PROPOSALS: Swine Cluster 4: Call for Letters of Intent Launch Date: December 2, 2021 Status: Closed Guidelines African Swine Fever: Prevention & Mitigation Launch Date: December 16, 2020 Status: Closed Guidelines Improving Swine Welfare in Canada Launch Date: November 6, 2020 Status: Closed Guidelines Improving Swine Health in Canada Launch Date: September 19, 2018 Status: Closed Guidelines Swine Cluster 3: Call for Letters of Intent Launch Date: October 2016 Status: Closed Guidelines

  • Swine Innovation Porc | Canadian Swine R&D

    Advancing Canadian Pork through Research Investments in research enable our value chain to move forward responsibly, creating benefits for producers, processors and consumers SIP supports the Canadian pork industry by facilitating innovative research and knowledge transfer for the benefit of the value chain. Learn More Innovation Feeds Industry Progress Sustainably raised pork builds a better future, from farm to fork. Sustainability Learn More Button Cutting-edge practices fortify the pork industry's position and success. Resiliency Learn More Button Innovation drives productivity, and economic viability across the value chain. Growth Learn More Button Turning Priorities into Action Discover how our pork research projects are advancing key priorities Animal Health Environment Animal Nutrition Animal Care Quality Knowledge in Your Hands. Get the Latest Insights and Research News 25/08/23 Animal Health Scientists Strive to Use Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Secreted Molecules to Fight PRRS Button ​ Animal Health Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Bacteria Provides Molecules to Fight PRRS Button 11/08/23 Nutrition, Animal Health Scientists Seek Alternatives to Antibiotics for Growth Promotion Button 26/07/23 ​ Surprising Discoveries Could Lead to New Antiviral Drugs to Combat PRRS Button ​ When the Going Gets Tough, Science Helps Pigs Get Growing A Strategy for Sick Swine Nutrition, Sustainability Button ​ A Golden Chance to Green the Planet Science Lends a Hand to Lower Footprint Sustainability Button ​ It’s High Time to Lower Feed Costs Stretching Diet Dollars Only Makes Sense Nutrition Button View All View All Research Highlights Community Wire “Science is at the heart of modern pork production. As a producer, I'm always on the lookout for the best tools and practices to reduce risks and grow my business.”

  • More Resources | Swine Innovation Porc

    MORE RESOURCES Browse the sections below to provide practical information coming out of research projects that we support. For fact sheets about our research projects, please click here . ​ ​ ANIMAL NUTRITION Animal Nutrition PHASE FEEDING FOR GROUP-HOUSED SOWS ARTICLE June 2019 Continue Strategy to Cut Sow Feed Costs Published by Better Pork Magazine ANIMAL WELFARE Animal Welfare WATER SPRINKLING DURING TRANSPORT GUIDELINES December 2013 Continue Water Sprinkling Equipment for Pig Trailers Published by Swine Innovation Porc HUMANE EUTHANASIA TECHNIQUES GUIDELINES 2013 Continue The Zephyr-E: A Solution to Humane Euthanasia for Piglets Published by Farm and Food Care Ontario BIOSECURITY Biosecurity TRANSPORT ARTICLE March 2019 Continuez Assessing Trailer Cleanliness Jointly published by Swine Innovation Porc, CDPQ, Prairie Swine Centre BUILDINGS & MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES Buildings & Management Strategies FEEDERS & DRINKERS FACT SHEET 2017 Continue Water intake: Recommended flow rate and height of nipple drinkers Jointly published by Swine Innovation Porc, CDPQ, Prairie Swine Centre FACT SHEET 2017 Continue Feeder design: Recommended width and depth Jointly published by Swine Innovation Porc, CDPQ, Prairie Swine Centre BEST PRACTICES FACT SHEETS 2018 Continue Auditing Best Management Practices Link to our partner's website: CDPQ Animal Nutrition Animal Welfare Biosecurity Buildings & Management Strategies

  • Scientists Strive to Use Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Secreted Molecules to Fight PRRS

    < Community Wire Next Article> Scientists Strive to Use Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Secreted Molecules to Fight PRRS Bruce Cochrane 25 Aug 2023 Dr. Carl Gagnon discusses the potential use of compounds secreted by bacteria to combat viruses 00:00 / 02:45 Farmscape for August 25, 2023 Researchers with the University of Montreal in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc are working to apply molecules secreted by one infection that inhibit the replication of another to the development of new antiviral drugs to treat Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome. Research conducted by the University of Montreal looking at the interactions between the virus responsible for PRRS and other disease-causing pathogens found that molecules secreted by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae inhibit the replication of the PRRS virus. Dr. Carl Gagnon, a professor with the University of Montreal and a member of the swine and poultry infectious disease research center, says, with funding provided by Swine Innovation Porc, scientists are characterising the mechanisms of action of these compounds, which are know as nucleosides. Quote-Dr. Carl Gagnon-University of Montreal: Nucleoside analogs are already known in humans to be part of some antiviral drugs. We confirmed that the molecule secreted by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae possesses an antiviral effect against PRRS virus and, based on that result, we looked at already know antiviral drugs that are used for human viruses and we are testing some already known drugs to see if they can have an effect against PRRS virus. But we also have to look at the bigger picture because sometimes human antiviral drugs are quite expensive and unfortunately, for those kinds of drugs, I don't know how they can be applied in real situations at the barn level because of the costs which would be very high. However, we are also trying to figure out what is the mechanism of action of the Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae secreted molecules and we hope that by identifying and characterising the mechanism of action then we can find other molecules that could block those mechanisms to be able to have an antiviral drug and hopefully to develop a drug that will be more accessible to the industry in terms of cost. Dr. Gagnon says the hope is, within a few years, to have a good way to control PRRS. For more visit Farmscape.Ca . Bruce Cochrane. *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers < Community Wire Next Article >

  • Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Bacteria Provides Molecules to Fight PRRS

    < Community Wire Next Article> Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae Bacteria Provides Molecules to Fight PRRS Bruce Cochrane ​ Dr. Carl Gagnon discusses the use of molecules secreted by an infectious bacterial agent to develop new antiviral drugs to treat viral infections 00:00 / 02:35 Farmscape for August 18, 2023 Researchers with the University of Montreal are using molecules secreted by an infectious bacterial agent to develop new antiviral drugs to treat viral infections. While exploring the interactions between the virus responsible for PRRS and other disease-causing pathogens, researchers with the University of Montreal discovered that molecules secreted by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae inhibit the replication of the PRRS virus. Dr. Carl Gagnon, a professor with the University of Montreal and a member of the swine and poultry infectious disease research center, says with support from Swine Innovation Porc scientists are exploring the mechanisms involved with an end goal being the control of PRRS. Quote-Dr. Carl Gagnon-University of Montreal: It's very important to reduce the impact of PRRS viruses and to reduce the infection of PRRS. Of course, if we have pharmaceutical products that can be applied during an outbreak, it could have a very very positive impact. Every drug has to be prescribed by a veterinary practitioner but, at the end, the end user and the swine industry are who will benefit. If it can save animals, then less mortality in a barn will present during an outbreak and if you are able to control the reduction of abortion in pregnant sows then it's a big advantage. So, it will be positive for the producer, for the overall swine industry but we're not there yet. I hope you understand that. We still have to continue to work on that. What was the most interesting at the moment was that we were able to find different molecules from Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae that have an antiviral effect and we just started to investigate that. Dr. Gagnon notes these types of molecule, known as nucleoside analogs, are already found in antiviral drugs used to treat disease in humans. For more visit Farmscape.Ca . Bruce Cochrane. *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers < Community Wire Next Article >

  • Scientists Seek Alternatives to Antibiotics for Growth Promotion

    < Community Wire Next Article> Scientists Seek Alternatives to Antibiotics for Growth Promotion Bruce Cochrane 11 Aug 2023 Dr. Dominic Poulin-Laprade discusses research aimed at improving piglet health and performance through dietary supplementation 00:00 / 02:43 Farmscape for August 11, 2023 A scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says new rules governing antibiotic use in feed have heightened the need to find alternatives. As part of research, funded by Swine Innovation Porc, scientists compared the performance of piglets fed a control diet consisting of 35 percent naked oats to diets supplemented with various combinations of bovine colostrum, medium-chain fatty acids and yeast extract and to diets supplemented with the antibiotic chlortetracycline. Dr. Dominic Poulin-Laprade, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says the abrupt dietary and environmental changes at weaning have many detrimental consequences on the piglets' health. Quote-Dr. Dominic Poulin-Laprade-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: At the time of weaning piglets will transition from lactation to a solid grain-based diet. In addition to this feeding transition, piglets are separated from the sows and are introduced into a new pen where they must establish the hierarchal order again. Weaning is intensely stressful for the piglets that still have an immature intestinal immune system and microbiota resulting in numerous physiological, immunological and microbiological changes causing reduced animal performance, increased susceptibility to enteric infections and, in some cases, mortality. To reduce the effect of weaning, cases of infection and important economic losses producers and veterinarians use in-feed antibiotics. Canada and many other countries have banned the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion making the research for alternative growth promoters a crucial need. Many research teams are studying the potential of feeding supplements as alternatives to the use of in-feed antibiotics. However little research has focussed on formulating specific feeds for the preweaning period to facilitate the transition during the weaning period by increasing the pre and postweaning feed intake. Dr. Poulin-Laprade acknowledges the supplements tested in this study fell short of mimicking the animal performance obtained using prophylactic antibiotics. For more visit Farmscape.Ca . Bruce Cochrane. *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers < Community Wire Next Article >

  • Farmscape Interviews on Animal Welfare | Swine Innovation Porc

    FARMSCAPE INTERVIEWS ANIMAL WELFARE The interviews presented below have been done with researchers and experts involved in projects and activities supported by Swine Innovation Porc that are related to animal welfare . ​ 2022 Researchers Compare Performance of Gestating Sows Mixed Under Static and Dynamic Mixing December 20, 2022 Continue ​ Record Keeping Key to Determining Reasons for Death Loss of Sows and Removals From the Breeding Herd December 15, 2022 Continue Researchers Examine Risk Factors For Weaned Piglets During Transport November 28, 2022 Continue 2021 Research Provides Insight into the Effects of Transport on Weaner Pigs March 26, 2021 Continue Effects of Long Versus Short Duration Transport Different But Equal March 19, 2021 Continue 2020 Scientists Seek Strategies to Reduce Sow Mortality October 23, 2020 Continue Understanding Stress During Transport Key to Minimising Impact August 21, 2020 Continue Producer Survey Examines Factors that Lead to Culling of Sows October 13, 2020 Continue Long Distance Transport Results in Greater Physiological Effects on Weaned Pigs than Short Distance Transport August 13, 2020 Continue Research Gives New Insight into Stress During Transport September 2, 2020 Continue Pork Producers Invited to Assist in Sow Culling Study July 29, 2020 Continue 2019 Researchers Work to Improve Piglet Comfort During Transport December 6, 2019 Continue Researchers Target Improved Comfort During Transport September 20, 2019 Continue Canadian Swine Producer Survey Expected to Help Identify Best Sow Management Practices August 30, 2019 Continue Simplified Post Mortem Methods and Expanded Data Collection Expected to Shed Light on Sow Mortality June 6, 2019 Continue Research to Benefit Shippers of Young Pigs October 30, 2019 Continue Research to Provide Produces and Regulators Direction on Pig Transport September 12, 2019 Continue Scientists Seek to Identify Management Factors that Influence Sow and Piglet Welfare and Productivity June 21, 2019 Continue Scientists Work to Improve Sow Productivity and Piglet Vitality Under Group Housing May 24, 2019 Continue Scientists Seek Strategies to Reduce Stress During Transport October 25, 2019 Continue Scientists Examine Effects of Transport on Early-Weaned Piglets September 6, 2019 Continue Research Focuses on Improving Sow Welfare and Productivity June 10, 2019 Continue Scientists Investigate Reasons for Increase in Sow Mortality May 10, 2019 Continue 2018 Slat and Gap Width Influences Sow Foot Health December 18, 2018 Continue Sow Foot Health Improves with Use of Rubberized Concrete Floor Coatings November 23, 2018 Continue Gestating Sows Benefit from Narrow Slat and Slot Widths September 21, 2018 Continue Electronic Sow Feeding Wave of the Future for Gestating Sows June 22, 2018 Continue Acidification and Fermentation Improve Low Quality Feed Grains May 1, 2018 Continue Group Size Can Influence Aggression Among Group Housed Sows December 13, 2018 Continue Rubberised Concrete Floor Coverings Offer Potential to Improve Sow Foot Health October 30, 2018 Continue Narrower Slat and Gap Width Flooring Benefits Sow Foot Health September 9, 2018 Continue Sow Herd Productivity Under Group Housing Similar to Stall Housing June 15, 2018 Continue Feeding System Primary Consideration when Managing Sows In Loose Housing November 30, 2018 Continue Space Allowance Influences Nursery Pig Productivity and Behavior September 26, 2018 Continue Pork Producers Pleased with Moves to Group Sow Housing July 17, 2018 Continue Sow Barn Renovation Costs Lower than Projected June 4, 2018 Continue 2017 Group Sow Housing Offers Opportunity to Reduce Energy Costs October 13, 2017 Continue Researchers Identify Strategies For Reducing Aggression Among Group Housed Sows September 21, 2017 Continue Access to Research Improves Decision Making When Moving to Group Sow Housing August 24, 2017 Continue Non-Competitive Feeding Allows Greater Range of Weight and Larger Group Size October 5, 2017 Continue Advanced Planning Key When Converting to Group Housing September 14, 2017 Continue Right Facility Design Right People Key to Successful Conversion to Group Housing February 8, 2017 Continue Right Diets and Right Volumes Critical to Peak Sow Productivity October 2, 2017 Continue Adoption of Group Housing Varies by Region September 5, 2017 Continue 2016 Improved Concrete Floor Design Extends Sow Longevity December 20, 2016 Continue Research Shows Fan Bank Ventilation Effective in Regulating Swine Body Temperature October 14, 2016 Continue Improved Slatted Floor Design Expected to Improve Sow Health and Comfort July 7, 2016 Continue New Sow Housing Conversion Web Site Launched January 8, 2016 Continue Interest in Converting to Group Sow Housing Accelerates November 28, 2016 Continue Research Suggests Space Allowance Requirements Could be Reduced for Nursery Pigs September 30, 2016 Continue Providing Piglets Enrichments Early in Life Leads to Benefits Later On February 17, 2016 Continue Scientists Examine Effects of Vibration in Transit on Pig Comfort and Meat Quality October 21, 2016 Continue Research Provides Insight into Effects of Stocking Density on Nursery Pig Performance September 22, 2016 Continue Enriched Environments Offer Potential to reduce Aggressions Among Group Housed Sows February 12, 2016 Continue 2015 Sow Operations Sought to Participate in Group Sow Housing Conversion Project October 28, 2015 Continue Pork Producers Consider Sow Barn Conversion to Comply with New Pig Code Requirements April 22, 2015 Continue New Web Site to Provide Information on Converting Sow Barns to Group Housing January 23, 2015 Continue Project Aims to Provide Information to Producers Planning Conversions to Group Sow Housing October 15, 2015 Continue Changes to Pig Code Stimulates Increasing Interest in Sow Housing Research April 20, 2015 Continue Researchers Target Improved Management of Various Aspects of Group Housing January 16, 2015 Continue Sow Farms Invited to Consider Participation in National Sow Housing Conversion Project June 26, 2015 Continue Mixing Sows According to Parity Improves Overall Performance March 20, 2015 Continue 2014 Researchers Explore Options for Converting From Stall Housing to Group Housing December 24, 2014 Continue News Tools to Assist in Converting From Stall to Group Housing Expected in Early 2015 December 4, 2014 Continue Training Sows Presents Biggest Challenges When Adopting ESF Systems November 17, 2014 Continue Scientists Assess Impact of Time of Mixing on Sow Productivity December 17, 2014 Continue Study to Examine Benefits of Water Sprinkling and Ventilation Fans in Reducing Heat Stress During Transport November 27, 2014 Continue Decisions Regarding Sow Housing Conversion Vary Regionally November 5, 2014 Continue Flooring Design Changes Expected to Help Reduce Lameness Among Group Housed Gestating Sows December 12, 2014 Continue Researchers Look to Identify Optimal Space Allowance to Maximize Productivity of Nursery Pigs November 21, 2014 Continue 2013 New Euthanasia Device for Piglets Now Commercially Available February 15, 2013 Continue 2012 New Device Eases Stress of Euthanasia September 4, 2012 Continue

  • About Us | Swine Innovation Porc

    ABOUT US Swine Innovation Porc facilitates and coordinates, on a national level, R&D and knowledge transfer for the Canadian swine sector. Founded in 2010, we are a not-for-profit organization. WHO WE ARE The Canadian Pork Council and eight provincial pork producer organizations are valued members of our organization: Our Board of Directors includes representatives from provincial pork organizations, who provide funding to Swine Innovation Porc in order to leverage research dollars and support timely and relevant R&D activities that will benefit the sector. OUR VISION Science into Practice ​ OUR MISSION Provide national leadership in research, development and knowledge transfer to enhance the competitiveness of the Canadian swine sector OUR ROLE Determine national research priorities Develop multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary R&D programs Act as a coordinator for the research community and industry partners Deliver timely and effective knowledge transfer programs Encourage the development of highly qualified professionals as well as research skills Leverage producer dollars OUR RESEARCH ACTIVITIES Since 2010, Swine Innovation Porc has supported over 50 projects through three multidisciplinary research programs as well as other initiatives. Visit our Projects section of our website to learn more about individual projects, or visit Our Research Programs page to learn more about these programs: ​ Swine Cluster 1 (2010-2013) Swine Cluster 2 (2013-2018) Swine Cluster 3 (2018-2023)

  • E. coli Study Just What the Doctor Ordered

    < Back Nutrition, Animal Health E. coli Study Just What the Doctor Ordered Keeping Pigs in the Pink of Health Post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) caused by E. coli infection is not pretty for pigs or their owners. Finding ways to combat this illness could save producers a bundle in treatment costs and lost production, while improving the well-being of animals and strengthening food safety. Led by Dr. Vahab Farzan, Research Scientist with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, scientists sought a probiotic solution to PWD. E. coli bacteria that reside in the intestines of humans and some animals are usually harmless, and support a healthy digestive tract. Some strains, however, can produce toxins that cause a number of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and damage to the lining of the intestine. Additionally, infection in post weaning pigs often leads to mortality, making E. coli a major focus of research for the pork sector. Not only does it severely impact the industry in Canada to the tune of $100 – 150 million per year, but it is of great concern around the globe. Given that it causes dehydration, diarrhea and often death, E. coli is an animal welfare problem as well. Even pigs that recover from the infection may fail to keep pace with others in terms of development, remaining stuck at a lower performance level during the growing stage. Going all in to keep it out In light of E. coli ’s impact, producers try a range of approaches to keep it at bay. Prevention starts with thorough cleaning and disinfection of all pens from one batch of pigs to another; however, infection sometimes sneaks through in spite of a farm’s best efforts. Another strategy for guarding against E. coli is the inclusion of antimicrobials in the nursery diet. A popular choice is zinc oxide, which is usually administered in high doses of 2500 – 3000 ppm (parts per million). Because this substance is a heavy metal, too much of it can be toxic for pigs. To guard against this, the animal’s physiology ensures that excessive zinc intake is excreted. That can be a problem, as it means that zinc accumulates in manure and winds up contaminating soil and groundwater. Keeping Resistance in Check There is also evidence from previous studies that the gene in bacteria responsible for resistance to zinc oxide is carried on a “mobile genetic element”. This element is a type of genetic material that can move around within the genome of the bacterial population of a pig. The genome is akin to a recipe book for the animal, containing all the instructions for making and maintaining it. While “mobile genetic element” may sound harmless, it cannot be taken lightly, since it also carries the genes for resistance to other antimicrobials. Left unchecked, it will lead to more resistant bacteria in the pig’s gut, which could eventually inhibit the treatment of future infections in the herd. Taking your best shot A critical tool for preventing infection is vaccines. Though they are often effective, they can be of limited value to piglets, whose immune systems are still immature and unable to reap the benefits of vaccination. This led researchers to explore the most promising option, probiotics, which are live bacteria (the good kind) and yeasts that promote gut health and guard against disease. Pondering Probiotics Before a control measure such as probiotics can be used at the farm level, researchers need to evaluate the product’s effectiveness thoroughly through experimental challenge trials. This required that they develop an infection model to determine at what age, and with how much bacteria, pigs should be infected by E. coli to show the clinical signs of post-weaning diarrhea. For the benefit of other scientists, the model can now be used as part of future projects. Additionally, in order for E. coli to infect a pig, the animal must possess a special receptor in the gut where the bacteria can attach and begin to wreak havoc. Absent that receptor, the pig possesses a natural resistance to E. coli , as harmful bacteria are unable to “land” and release their toxins. Discovery of the receptor’s role in resistance, and refinement of the disease models, are key outcomes which unlock new avenues for future studies. This foundational knowledge should go a long way to protecting pigs from E. coli down the road. Collaboration Drives Discovery Science is a team sport, and this project found financial backing from Swine Innovation Porc (SIP), Ontario Pork, and the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The project was co-led by Dr. Vahab Farzan from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. Progress was powered by the knowledge of his collaborators, who are also members of the Ontario Veterinary College: Dr. Robert Friendship, professor, and Dr. Brandon Lillie, department chair and associate professor. Dr Joshua Gong, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), also played a large part in the study. From here, the team will continue running disease challenge trials to evaluate products such as probiotics and vaccines. In addition to reducing mortality and hindering performance among pig herds, fighting against a devasting enemy like E. coli would address public health concerns around contaminated soil and antimicrobial resistance. Though it can be hard to find a win-win these days, anything that promises healthier pigs and happier consumers is a good start. Background Project Title: Development of Novel Feed Additives to Replace Antibiotics and Promote Pig Gut Health Lead(s)/Co-Lead(s): Dr. Vahab Farzan (University of Guelph) Budget: $212 755 Research Methods To assess the role of genetics, researchers ran several disease challenge trials to compare the response of genetically resistant and susceptible pigs to E. coli infection. As part of the challenges, scientists tried to determine the optimal age for exposing pigs to E. coli and the ideal dose of bacteria that would render the animals sick without leading to mortality.

  • Save On Feed and Plump Up the Profit

    < Back Nutrition, Sustainability Save On Feed and Plump Up the Profit Research Has Finger on the Pulses With the high price of pig feed these days, anything that lowers your cost is easy to swallow. Science is constantly seeking new ways to do that, and a recent study found that pulses, especially faba bean, could help trim the expense. Pulse power In a bid to diversify energy and protein for pig diets, University of Alberta researchers have been looking at increasing the inclusion of locally grown pulses in feed. Apart from reducing feed cost, there are a number of agronomic and sustainability benefits to growing pulses. In addition to fixing atmospheric nitrogen (N) in symbiosis with root bacteria, pulses aid in diversifying soil microbial populations and nutrient uptake. If that’s not enough, they also break pest and disease cycles in yearly crop rotation with cereal grains and oilseeds. This study looked at the potential for faba beans, which offer greater yield compared to field peas, fewer inputs in relation to other crops, and a lower carbon footprint than sourcing animal forms of protein. However, the inclusion of faba beans in swine diets has been limited by its content of antinutritional factors like tannins and vicine and covicine. Antinutritional factors are components in food that can reduce nutrient use or feed intake. In response, researchers have found solutions through this study by identifying more suitable faba bean cultivars for producers. Faba takes flight When faba beans were first introduced to Western Canada about 20 years ago, their high tannin content served as a double-edged sword. The tannins helped guard the crop from early frost damage in the fall, but they gave the beans a bitter taste, rendering them of limited value for inclusion in pig diets. To improve their feed potential, a new white-flowered cultivar named Snowbird was introduced. While its lower tannin level improved feed potential, that came at the expense of reduced protection against early frost. In a nutshell (or bean pod), the dilemma was this: How could science achieve the best of both worlds for producers, rendering the beans effective as a crop and a feed source? For a solution, crop researchers have reduced the level of tannin to retain frost protection while enhancing digestibility of the bean. Though producers also receive low tannin levels with Snowbird, they lose frost protection in the process . In the course of this study, University of Alberta researchers found that faba bean cultivars with moderate amounts of tannin could still be included in pig diets, provided that the cultivar was also low in vicine and covicine – the anti-nutritional factors. This was a notable breakthrough for producers, as it meant they could reduce their risk of frost damage while growing faba bean for both food and feed without harmful effects. It pays to be picky To maximize the benefit of adding faba beans to a rotation, it’s important to do your homework before choosing the best variety for your farm. Among faba bean cultivars with moderate tannin content, researchers found Fabelle to be a top choice for feed intake and weight gain. Across cultivars, variations in dietary fiber and starch content contribute to differences in dry matter, energy digestibility and growth performance of pigs – which can all impact the bottom line. On the other hand, while ensuring that a cultivar will benefit your pigs is obviously paramount, this also needs to be weighed against yield impacts from reduced frost protection. Having established the viability of faba beans in reducing feed cost, scientists on this study feel that getting that message to the end user is critical. For the findings to be adopted, pig producers must be convinced that pulse grains like faba bean are cost effective. By replacing expensive soybean meal with the less costly faba bean as a protein source, while maintaining growth performance, producers can reduce feed cost per unit of growth. Digesting the results Though researchers found that the antinutritional factors in faba beans may slightly reduce a pig’s ability to digest nutrients, this should not hamper growth if producers consider that fact when formulating diets. For feeding pigs, medium levels of tannins in faba bean are acceptable, provided that vicine and covicine levels are limited. This study was led by Dr. Eduardo Beltranena, pork research scientist at the University of Alberta. In the barn and lab, graduate student Protus Nyende did the legwork, ensuring that all trials were completed accurately. The project was supported with funding from Swine Innovation Porc and Alberta Pork, which was provided to Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra. As its next order of business, the team plans to delve deeper into characterizing faba bean cultivars and gaining a better picture of what is happening with this ingredient in western Canada. Wherever that may take them, they know their work to date should take a bite out of producer costs. Now THAT’S food for though t. Background Project Title: Reducing feed cost and the environmental footprint and enhancing global competitiveness of Canadian pork production by increased nutrient utilization of feedstuffs fed to growing-finishing pigs. Lead(s)/Co-Lead(s): Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra (University of Alberta) Budget: $353 844 Research Methods Novel faba bean cultivars vary in nutrient content, digestibility and antinutritional factors that must be characterized to realize predictable growth performance in growing pigs. As part of the study, four diets were fed to eight barrows -weighing 37.5 kg each - for four 9-day periods to establish energy and nutrient digestibility. Those diets were comprised of 950 g faba bean/kg. The diets included two with zero-tannin cultivars (both with moderate levels of vicine and covicine) and two with mid-tannin cultivars (one low in vicine and covicine and one high in those factors).

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