Science - the Answer to Feeding the World?

The theme of this year's JSR Technical Conference was Science – the Key to Feeding the World, writes Jackie Linden, editor of ThePigSite, who attended the event at the University of Nottingham earlier this week.
calendar icon 17 September 2010
clock icon 5 minute read

"The theme for our 21st Conference is 'Science – the Key to Feeding the World'," said Tim Rymer, chairman of JSR Genetics, in his introduction to the event. "As a science-based business, it is obvious to us that scientific solutions have the potential to ensure we are able to feed a world population of nine billion by 2050. There are already another 200,000 mouths to feed since we awoke yesterday morning."

He explained that over 21 years, JSR's annual conference has become a key event in the UK pig industry calendar, evolving from a scientific and academic base to one that still keeps science at its core but is based on practical reality.

"We never want to be far away from the customer or consumer and the money," he added.

Also changing over time have been the 'hot' topics – from foot and mouth disease three years ago, high feed prices two years ago and H1N1 flu last year. Today, some producers are facing high feed prices again, which has more to do with speculation on the markets than supply and demand in the wheat market, Mr Rymer said.

"Animal feed efficiency is part of the solution. We all want animals that grow fast and lean and eat very little. We all know what effect 0.1 FCR will have on our pig business but if this was on a global scale, how much less land would be needed to feed the same population of animals?" he asked.

Animals that grow fast and efficiently produce less CO2 equivalents, which is good for the environment. Mr Rymer explained that JSR's investment in the Decoy finishing facility will not only be a good advertisement for the the company's sire lines but also increase the focus on feed efficiency. Manure produced by the facility will both reduce fertiliser costs and increase yields.

The previous evening, Richard Fuller gave the company a presentation on the Stabiliser Cattle project, which has many parallels to the pig side of the business, said Mr Rymer. The Stabiliser is a low-cost, easy calving suckler cow, with exceptional eating quality. The company has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with retailer, Morrisons, to set up a supply chain based around the breed.

"Building a brand that is consistent and trusted is hard work but it is a good example of putting science into practice and retaining the trust of the consumer as well," said Mr Rymer, adding that Mr Fuller's company also recognises that feed efficiency is crucial in staying ahead.

The work JSR is doing on eating quality with beef under the Givendale Prime brand and pork with our Crackling Farm Pork initiative will benefit from the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School, which opens for business at the end of October, said Mr Rymer.

Emphasising the international scope of JSR's business, Mr Rymer welcomed a delegation from Cotswold Japan, which operates the JSR franchise there, as well as the first group of Chinese technicians who are starting a four-month training programme at JSR in preparation for the stocking of the company's China Nucleus in 2011. JSR is also currently stocking the Canadian Nucleus, added Mr Rymer.

Two other areas in which JSR has invested are Technical Support and Sales. The company operates a joint venture with Paul Wright in international markets as JSR Checkmate, and this organisation has recently agreed to manage all the Technical Support for JSR.

"We have also appointed two Sales Trainees Laura Russell and Mark Woodall," added Mr Rymer before introducing the Conference speakers.

'Benefits from breeding in the next decade' was the title taken by the first presenter, Frédéric Grimaud, president of Groupe Grimaud, who was followed by JSR Genetics' own director of Research & Genetics, Dr Grant Walling, who discussed 'The Science of Feeding the World'. Professor Gareth Edward Jones from Bangor University gave a new interpretation on carbon emissions in agriculture and how they can be reduced. In the final session, Steve Murrells, chief operating office of Tulip Ltd spoke on 'From farm to fork in a changing Britain' and Alastair Butler explained the marketing story behind Blythburgh Free Range Pork.

Further Reading

- You can view our report of the JSR Technical Conference 2010 by clicking here.

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