Pig sector to test advantages of computed tomography

Study the carcass evolution without sacrificing the animal

Computed tomography is a non-invasive technology that allows studying the evolution of an animal's carcass at various stages of its development without sacrificing it. 

CT appears to be a very useful tool in swine production as it allows researchers and companies to model the growth of animal body tissues in vivo and to study the effect of different factors (genetics, gender, nutrition) on this growth.

How is CT used in swine? 

"Computerized tomography as a tool to improve efficiency in pig production" is the name of a new demonstration project that, in collaboration with the Institute for Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) and the Department of Climate Action, Food and Agenda Rural de la Generalitat de Catalunya, wants to offer the pig sector the possibility of checking first-hand the capabilities of computed tomography (CT).

CT is a technology based on X-rays, best known for its uses in human medicine - such as in the detection of brain lesions - which in animal production can be used as a non-invasive technique to study the evolution of the brain canal and an animal in various stages of its development without having to sacrifice it. Thus, it can be used either on the farm, in the slaughterhouse or in the processing industry, to see the interior of the animal and obtain values ​​of thickness, area and volume of each of the tissues (what is called "tissue composition").

Those responsible for the DEMOTAC project will initially carry out an exploration of the sector to identify the specific needs of companies related to pig production. Once this is done, they will offer two sessions to present the technology and its applications, and show it live in the evaluation of live animals and carcasses. Finally, to help in the transfer of knowledge, an informative video on CT will be made.

The companies participating in the project will be able to directly test the technology and scan some of their live animals and/or carcasses at the IRTA facilities in Monells (Girona). The sessions will be prepared in advance with the fattening of a selected group of animals. CT will make it possible to follow the evolution of this process, which is one of the main advantages of technology.

What companies could benefit from the advantages of CT? 

  • Animal genetic improvement companies, which could select the best specimens according to the desired product. 
  • Nutrition companies, which would check the effects of the applied feeding strategy on the animals. 
  • At the processing level, this system could also help in the calibration of carcass classification equipment and in the optimization of food processing.

(Institute for Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA)

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