The Pig Site Backroom
Interview Exclusives from ThePigSite.com
ThePigSite.com's intrepid reporter interviews influential figures in the World of Agriculture and brings to you their opinions on a number of key industry questions:
Dr Alan Tinch, Head of Genetics, Research and Development at JSR Genetics speaks exclusively to ThePigSite.com
One of the world's leading pig genetics companies based in Yorkshire, U.K. JSR Genetics Ltd was formed when JSR Healthbred merged with Newsham Hybrids and acquired the Cotswold Pig Development Company.
JSR Genetics Ltd is a global company selling stock and providing genetic support through a network of distributors to over 30 companies around the world.
Pork seems to be increasing in popularity as a middle of the plate meal - why do you think pork has been resisted by fast food retailers in preference to beef and chicken?
Pork is the most popular meat in the world and in many markets processed products such as sausages and ready meals are driving increased consumption. In fact, pork consumed as bacon, ham, sausage, salami and in pork pies can be regarded as the original convenience food. Hot dogs feature on many fast food menus. Pork does not have a fast food champion such as McD's, BK or KFC driving pork as a brand.
What are your key genetic goals going forward and why?
The goal of the JSR Genetics breeding programmes has always been to maximise profitability from farm to fork. The challenge we face is the range of different production systems and environmental conditions experienced by pigs within and between markets. JSR Genetics has handled the diversity selecting for straightforward production characteristics within our own and distributor nucleus herds giving local adaption of JSR genotypes to the market they supply. Within our home market we have developed a range of genotypes aimed at different production systems giving our customer a choice of the best breed combination for each one.
The Industry worldwide seems to be developing into a more formally integrated production process, much the same as the Poultry Industry has developed. Do you see the breeding role as a future key component or will this remain as a specialist entity in the chain?
Genetics is one component of integrated meat production that touches every link of the chain. The geneticist must understand how changing the genotype is likely to affect each aspect of meat production - from breeding farm through growing farm to processing plant. We must strive to develop breeds that have the closest fit with needs and expectations throughout the chain. This requires dialogue between the geneticist and those responsible for each level of production.
In view of the increasing de-commoditisation of pork products and the increase of more niche products (organic, free-range etc) do you envisage the re-emergence of older breeds or the development of specific genotypes to differentiate these?
One of the advantages of pork over other meats is the range of ways in which it is consumed. The market is re-discovering a number of high quality pork products and is looking at the best way to present these to the consumer. There will always be a need for pork to be produced economically.
How important are health and welfare traits within a successful breeding programme?
The health and welfare of animals being bred for meat production is a major consideration. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with how animals are produced in addition to price and quality. Everyone involved in animal production must therefore ensure that the systems used provide optimum welfare. Genetics can be used to ensure that animals are adapted to the production environment.
Do you believe there is a role for genetic modification in the advancement of pig breeding ..... for example in breeding resistance for major economic disease like Foot & Mouth or Influenza?
New developments in biotechnology will continue to give opportunities to improve the pig genotypes. Pig breeding companies have always been at the forefront in applying new technology. Application of advanced statistical methods such as BLUP is a good example. Transgenic methods, where novel genes are transferred into animals for production, depend on identifying the right genes and may not be acceptable to consumers.
We have noticed a trend developing with international pig breeding companies merging - do you see this following the path of the poultry industry where there are now effectively only some 3 to four major breeders in each sector?
JSR Genetics Ltd was formed when three internationally renowned breeding companies: JSR Healthbred, Newsham and Cotswold, were merged. The merger has allowed JSR Genetics to have the critical mass to develop a range of world-class products supplied by a network of regional distributors.