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Key Research Priorities Include Cost of Production, Sow Housing

7 September 2012, at 8:33am

CANADA - The president and CEO of the Prairie Swine Centre says cost of production and sow housing are among the priority issues being addressed by researchers at the Prairie Swine Centre, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Swine Centre will celebrate 20 years of research Saturday with a hog roast at the Saskatoon Farmers Market.

Prairie Swine Centre President and CEO Lee Whittington suggests the key questions facing researchers today is where are we going as an industry and how will we keep production costs in line so we have a viable industry 20 years from now.

Lee Whittington from the Prairie Swine Centre said: "Cost of production, which primarily focuses on feed, so some of the work that we're doing right now looks at alternative feed ingredients.

"It looks at lowering energy in the diet so that when corn and feed grains get really expensive, what are the alternatives that we can use?

"All of that is built into what we're doing in our nutrition program.

"The second biggest issue right now is what are we going to do with sow housing and so we have several programs where nutrition is linked into behavior as well as engineering, looking at alternative barn designs and alternative management systems including alternative feeding programs in order to accommodate sows in groups.

"The third area would be to look at how is the cost of production from an energy use point of view, so that is your energy and gas or whether it be coal or electricity, that's one of the major costs of doing business.

"It's gone from being about the eighth most important cost to about the third or forth important cost on most farms so we have quite a large program looking at standardization of procedures within the barn and reduction of utility costs."

Mr Whittington says Saturday's celebration at the farmers market will be an opportunity to speak directly to the public about the pork industry at a time when there's a lot in the news about the challenges being faced by all livestock producers, in particular pork producers.