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The impact was best de- scribed by Dr Matthew Cuthbertson from PIC.
Ten years ago, one sire could cover 18 sows.
Now one sire can cover 400 sows.
This is a big deal and it’s probably time for us all to go back and look at how to implement set-time AI on farm, as there was also evidence presented at A P- SA that it might reduce summer infertility.
PCAI is simply a matter of some training.
Dr Kim Bunter from AGBU told us the Aus- tralian herd has the same potential as herds across the globe to make the same rate of genetic pro- gress.
The question is why for reproduction, have we not seen much, if any, pro- gress in the past?
Looking at number weaned/sow/year, we are at least four piglets behind New Zealand, maybe five to six behind the US and Canada and at least eight behind the Netherlands and Denmark.
Our environment and housing might be a con- straint, but few herds across Australia can match the average of the NZ industry (26 pigs weaned/sow/year), so it’s unlikely to be environ- ment per se.
This leaves the genetic companies.
Maybe they have had the most selection pres- sure on growth and car- cass traits in both sire and dam line selection indexes.
The continuing demand by retailers to reduce P2 and the impact of P2 on price received maybe lends some credence to this.
APRIL target
More recently, we’ve seen greater progress in born alive and number weaned, suggesting some- thing has changed and we can expect progress to continue.
However, we are so far behind the eight ball in reproduction that unless we come up with a unique technology for marked- ly advancing the rate of genetic progress we will never catch up with our global competitors.
In the short to medium
term, we need an alter- native technology to in- crease number weaned.
APRIL is all about this.
The target is 12 weaned/ litter and 27-28 pigs weaned/sow/year.
We will be hellishly competitive if this is achieved.
Better pork
We heard from Pork CRC Program 3 leader Heather Channon of APL that great progress has been made in improving the eating quality of Aus- tralian pork.
I believe this has largely been due to the good ef- forts of Heather and the willingness of the various supply chains to get in- volved in Pork CRC R&D in the area.
There’s a bit to go, but we heard at the Pork CRC Stakeholders’ Day, prior to APSA, that many of the outcomes from the pro- gram have been adopted.
Heather and our other researchers in the area have transformed re- search on eating quality by taking the research out of the lab to supply chains and the consumer and we are reaping the rewards.
The latter is obvious from the pork products available in store and in the eating experience, with pork produced and processed using some of the Pork CRC outcomes. Satisfying sows
We enjoyed an interest- ing presentation (‘Feed- ing the sow to enhance progeny performance and health’) from Irishman Prof John O’ Doherty on the use of seaweed extracts to stimulate gut health and performance in weaned pigs.
There was a bit more science to it than the title suggested.
It investigated various compounds from seaweed as replacements for anti- biotics and ZnO.
Most interesting was some of the materials had the same positive effects on weaner and grower- finisher health and per- formance when fed to the sow during gestation and lactation only as when ap- plied to progeny per se. Essential oils
We’ve seen similar re- sults with essential oils in a project conducted by Dr Eugeni Roura.
Eugeni and his team at
the University of Queens- land have been investigat- ing the use of essential oils to control post-wean- ing diarrhoea in weaned piglets and as a means of linking the sow diet and weaner diet to enhance health and performance after weaning.
They screened a large number of essential oils for their ability to transfer from the sow’s diet to co- lostrum and milk and for their antibacterial proper- ties.
Bottom line is they se- lected a number of the es- sential oils and conducted a semi-commercial study in which the combination of oils was fed to sows (or not) in the last week of gestation and through lactation and then in (or not in) the weaner diet on
piglet performance after weaning.
The results showed pig- lets reared on sows that received the essential oils in their diet ate 14 per- cent more feed, grew 11.2 percent faster after wean- ing and were 8 percent heavier at day 28 post- weaning than their coun- terparts reared on sows that did not receive the essential oils.
The effects of includ- ing the essential oils in the weaner diet were not significant.
These are interesting out- comes with economically important commercial im- plications and we are fol- lowing up under true com- mercial conditions. Reducing confinement
Australian producers
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APSA 2017 heard from Pork CRC Program 3 leader Heather Channon (left) of APL that great progress has been made in the eating quality of Australian pork. Joining her at APSA for the session on eating quality and food safety, chaired by Dr Darryl D’Souza (top) of SunPork, were Dr Kate Hodgson of SARDI, Amy Lealiifano of Rivalea and Dr Cameron Jose of Murdoch University.
Australian Pork Newspaper, December 2017 – Page 3
Dr Kate Plush of SunPork Farms SA was one of the many researchers actively participating in question time during Pork CRC’s 2017 Stakeholders’ Day.

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