By Bruce Cochrane
A series of feeding trials planned for the Prairie Swine Centre will demonstrate to pork producers how feed can be used more efficiently.
As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team of engineers and nutritionists is fine tuning an experimental precision feeder that automatically tailors feed to meet the specific nutritional needs of individual pigs.
The feeders are being evaluated at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre at Sherbrook and will be moved to the Prairie Swine Centre for further feeding trials.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, notes feed costs represent the majority of the cost of getting a pig to market so the objective of this research is to learn what we can do improve the efficient use of feeds.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:
What these feeders do is they allow us to precisely feed each pig individually according to its own requirements.
It's got a very sophisticated computer algorithm within the feeder, the pig wears a transponder so every pig, the computer will know what its specific requirements are, then it individually mixes a different diet for that pig and feeds that pig specifically what it requires.
So we will be looking at how efficiently we can feed a pig using these feeders and, by efficiently, I mean how well can that feed be used?
There's two main advantages to that.
One of them, it makes the pig itself more efficient which improves the bottom line to each swine producer and the other advantage of that, it decreases nutrient excretion into the manure so that has a very good environmental advantage as well.
Dr. Beaulieu acknowledges there is still a lot of work to be done on these feeders but, even if producers don't yet have access to them, the information gathered through this research will help show how they can fine tune their feeding programs to raise pigs more efficiently.