National Center Partners with Genesus14 January 2013
CANADA - Modern, high health swine production, by its very nature does not lend itself well to being accessible to the public. The biosecurity protocols which protect our herds from disease transmission have effectively closed the door to a society which has become increasingly disconnected from where and how its food is raised and produced, writes Glenn Kuhn, Swine Technical Manager at Genesus Inc.
Established in 2006, the University of Manitoba’s Glenlea Swine Research Unit was built as part of the larger National Center for Livestock and the Environment (NCLE) and has become an integral part of the NCLE’s Bruce D. Campbell Farm & Food Discovery Centre. As a founding supporter, and exclusive genetics supplier to the Glenlea Swine Research Units, Genesus has been proud to be a part of Canada’s first hands-on facility which explores the ways in which food and food animals are produced and raised.
Located south of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba on University of Manitoba lands, the NCLE’s Bruce D. Campbell Farm & Food Discovery Centre includes a public interpretive facility covering all aspects of agricultural food production including grain and crop production and animal agriculture. The highlight for many visitors is the viewing area where the public can see into the various production areas of a working pig barn, including breeding, gestation, farrowing and nursery. This is a particularly popular part of the center for school children, many of whom have never seen real pigs in an authentic production setting.
According to Siobhan Maas, Program Co-ordinator for the center, the guest book at the center reflects a wide demographic from across the province but also visitors from across Canada and around the globe and invariably the comments reflect an overwhelming positive response to seeing real live pig production.
“I believe that it is really important for visitors to see not only live pigs, but also how they live. The Farm & Food Discovery Centre is an excellent way for families to see how pigs behave and act at various stages of their life through windows into four areas of a working pig barn,” says Maas. “Even though most pigs in Manitoba do not live the stereotypical outdoor farmyard life, visitors are able to see that the pigs raised at NCLE live in comfortable surroundings with access to toys and unlimited food and water.”
The public viewing area is connected to one of two farrow-to-finish production units, a conventional unit based on a liquid manure handling system with pigs raised on slatted concrete floors and an alternative unit utilizing a straw-based, solid manure system for the breeding, gestation and grow-finish areas. The two units are 130 sows each made up of Genesus F1 (Yorkshire x Landrace) females bred to Genesus Duroc terminal sires. Both sow herds are kept in group housing using an ESF (Electronic Sow Feeding) system.
A large part of Genesus’ support for the Glenlea Swine Research Units has come in the form of genetics for the facilities themselves. Genesus has been supplying high health breeding stock to the two facilities since 2006 and it is precisely that kind of long term commitment that ensures the university herds have access to the best genetics in the world, enabling teaching and research staff to work with the highly prolific, fast-growing, lean pigs that characterize the current industry standard.
According to Mike Van Schepdael, Genesus Vice-President, who was part of the initial fundraising committee to establish the centre, the support of a world class facility like this fit well with Genesus’ vision.
“We are a Manitoba-based, global swine genetics company. This is our home base and it made sense for us to support NCLE in this way. Many of our international clients have also visited the centre and are extremely impressed with what has been created there.”
In addition to the public viewing area and interpretive centre, the NCLE Research Community is committed to what is being called an ‘agricultural systems’ approach which is multi-disciplinary in nature. Areas of focus include sustainable agriculture systems modelling, animal health, manure management, livestock management, economics and policy issues.
As the general public’s interest in how their food is raised and produced grows, the Farm & Food Discovery Center in partnership with Genesus will continue to strive to provide engaging, factual and educational experiences for individuals and families who want to know more about how pigs are raised in today’s modern swine industry.
To find out more about Genesus Genetics, please take the time to visit their website at www.genesus.com .