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ThePigSite Newsletter - 21 August 2018

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Tuesday 21st August 2018.
Emily Houghton - ThePigSite Editor

Emily Houghton

MSD Animal Health


Big Dutchman

Boehringer Ingelheim





Ask an expert

Genetics and reproduction

This month The Pig Site puts some of your questions to Dr Craig Lewis, chair of the European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders and PIC Genetic Services manager.

If you’d like your swine questions answered, please contact the editor at

How many litters per year can a sow have and how soon after giving birth can a sow get pregnant?

I think litters per sow per year can depend on individual system and local legislation. As a general rule, gestation length is fixed to about 116 days today, and with increasing litter size we see this extending slightly into the future. To then increase litters per sow per year, the only things an individual farmer can influence is lactation length (there are some legal limits to this in Europe) and keeping non-productive days down. Of course, this number can also be manipulated in some herd recording systems considering when you ‘enter’ gilts into your herd.

In terms of how soon after giving birth can a sow get pregnant, the major driver of this would be wean age: once the sow is weaned we would aim to get her bred back 3-4 days post wean. 
How is line breeding and inbreeding different?

How are you defining line breeding? I could define it by ‘within-line breeding’, which, in the context of pig production, is keeping a line ‘alive’. We see this commonly in terms of breeding companies having lines of Landrace or Pietrain, for example, which are kept pure and improving into the future. The other way to define line breeding is using closely related animals in a breeding scheme so that a really outstanding ancestor is represented a great deal in the following generations.

In terms of the second definition, this can be utilised, however breeders do need to control for inbreeding and maintain genetic diversity in base populations. Inbreeding is traditionally thought of as breeding close relatives together and can happen when improving lines of pigs. Inbreeding today however is rapidly moving away from being measured using traditional pedigree methods and is now calculated using degrees of relationship at the level of the genome. Certainly, we embrace this approach as it allows for much more accurate and detailed management of inbreeding while having increased rates of genetic improvement.  
My sow will only breed with her son! Will the health and welfare of their progeny be affected by their genetic relation?

I have personally not encountered a situation where a sow will only breed with her son. Also, we would not recommend this considering there is an increased change of potentially deleterious alleles coming together that could compromise the health or welfare of the next generation. 
How can I select for lower feed conversion rates when breeding my pigs?

Feed conversion is basically derived from growth and feed intake. In order to maximise true conversion, you want to maximise a balanced selection of multiple traits (lean gain, robustness, carcass value) while limiting associated costs. We use a balanced selection using multiple traits to maximise the profit equation for customers. Within a breeding programme however you can only improve what you measure so detailed data collection on scale is vitally important for improving any metric.   
How can gene editing affect the welfare and productivity of my herd as well as the sustainability of my production?

I think there are many ways gene editing can provide substantial benefits – both to pig producers and society – and we’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities of this technology. The application of this technology to eliminate the deadly PRRS virus from commercial population will bring enormous animal welfare benefits, obvious economic benefits, and huge consumer benefits in terms of a possible reduction in antibiotic usage due to generally healthier pigs. In addition, the production system will overall be more efficient so there are also sustainability benefits in terms of reduced resource usage (energy, feed, and water) and these efficiencies will result in a lower carbon footprint per Kg of pork produced. The direct and indirect benefits of gene editing technology could be widespread if these new technologies are adopted into the future. We are working diligently to ensure that the technology is sound, to meet all requisite regulatory requirements, and to collaborate with key stakeholders to work towards consumer understanding and acceptance of gene editing technology.

Craig R G Lewis PhD - Genetic Services Manager - PIC Europe

Craig R G Lewis PhD
Genetic Services Manager
PIC Europe

A native of Hereford, England, Craig Lewis is a member of the PIC Global Product Development team, based in Barcelona, overseeing Genetic Services for the European, Russian, and African region and is active in PIC’s global welfare research programme. Additionally, he is responsible for directly managing the genetic programme for a number of PIC’s key customers and internal multipliers. External to PIC, Craig is currently the chair of the steering committee for the European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders (EFFAB) which is a cross species European political lobby association that represents the majority of animal breeding and reproduction organisations within Europe.

This Week's Articles and Analysis

Company News

What’s in season? How swine veterinarians are managing seasonal spikes in bacterial disease in the new VFD era
For pork producers, that used to mean adding an antibiotic to the grower-finisher rations or, at the very least, pulse feeding a medication at 7-day intervals to keep the seasonal bugs at bay.
Tips for successful oral-fluid sampling for PRRSV
Oral-fluid sampling is an easy way to detect porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) or track changes in PRRSV infections in populations — and it can optimize your survey efforts by keeping a few simple tips in mind, said Jeff Zimmerman, DVM, PhD, a professor at Iowa State University.
Corbett celebrates 40 years at Osborne
Osborne Industries, Inc., is pleased to announce a new milestone has been reached by long-time employee, Vicki Corbett of Osborne, Kan. Corbett celebrated her 40 year employment anniversary on Thursday, July 19, 2018.
Join the Genesus team
We are hiring.
Hypor building for the future
With Hypors’ continued growth in the Americas and around the world, we are enlarging our global nucleus population and reinvesting in our production assets.
Genesus Global Market Report: Canada – Party’s over, now what?
Two months ago Bob Hunsberger, Wallenstein Farm Supply, projected profits for the next 12 months at $10.35 per pig and producer profitability levels $13.29 per pig average producer and $34.30 per pig excellent production at the time. I asked them if we were out of the woods or just whistling pass the graveyard?
PCV3: A challenge independent from PCV2
Anyone involved in raising pigs is aware of porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2), but new on the scene is porcine circovirus type 3 (PCV3). Although the two viruses are both circular DNA viruses in the same family, they are separate and distinct.
Jim Long Pork Commentary: USDA projects record corn yield
Last Friday the USDA came out with a yield prediction of 178.4 bushels per acre. If this is correct it will be a record yield.
Market Reports

Global Pig Industry News


Are you doing all you can for your farm biosecurity?
Acidification improves grain preservation and boosts weaning pig performance

   European Union

EU pig prices: price rally continues – quotations still going up
EU pig prices: small quantities on offer are pushing up the prices


Is chlamydia affecting swine reproduction rates and the occurrence of reproductive disorders?

   United Kingdom

Fact-finding mission for pork exports to Mexico
Foot-and-mouth disease research receives over £3 million of funding
Conference tackles antibiotic resistance in food-producing animals

   United States

Emerging animal health companies compete for funding in ‘shark tank’ style forum
2018 America's Pig Farmer of the Year finalists announced
Pork struggling in USDA outlook for 2018/2019
New research shows efficacy of intravaginal gel in synchronising ovulation in sows


ASF death toll rises as 30 pigs die during transportation in China


Up goes another boar-proof fence

Book of the Week

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AB Vista - White Paper
Thermo Fisher Scientific – Applied Biosystems animal health diagnostics solutions


Boehringer Ingelheim - Prevention Works
Hog Slat - Grower Select
PIC - Never Stop Improving
Biomin - Naturally Ahead

Pig Health Today
SowCare - MSD Animal Health


CID LINES - Innovative Hygiene Solutions
Hypor - The world's local breeder
Novus International
Nutriad - We Know Pigs
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Genesus - The first power in genetics


Osborne Industries - Fast Start wean to finish feeder
Axcentive - Halamid The Universal Disinfectant
Socorex - a world of expertise in precision liquid handling
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