Category Archives: pork

New boar genetic screening test can boost litter sizes

Allan King

By Jeanine Moyer

Guelph – A new genetic test offers a boost to swine litter sizes in Canada. The result of more than 25 years of genetic research has led Prof. Allan King to identify a chromosome abnormality in male reproduction, including boars, that results in smaller litter sizes – and develop a genetic screening process to detect the fertility flaw.

“The abnormal chromosome in boars, male pigs, causes lower litter sizes, typically 3-4 fewer piglets per litter,” explains King, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Animal Reproductive Biotechnology at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. “Those numbers can add up to $100 in lost revenue, on average per litter. We’ve developed a simple blood test that can identify boars with the abnormal chromosome and rule out the problem before any breeding, ensuring average litter sizes at minimum.”

Approximately two per cent of hogs have the abnormal chromosome, and if used in a breeding program, could also pass the genetic makeup onto the offspring as carriers, carrying on the genetic fertility issue.

Farrowing operations and breeders would be most affected by this genetic abnormality, making the screening test a sound investment in their swine genetics and herd performance. Continue reading

Artisanal meats make waves in local market

By Jeanine Moyer

Sharbot Lake, ON – Five years ago, Mike Mckenzie set out to make delicious food.

His distinguished taste for salami and smoked meats, combined with his drive to acquire meat-making skills led to the creation of Seed to Sausage, a meat processing, retail and distribution company in Sharbot Lake, a small Frontenac County village north of Kingston.

Mckenzie follows his own suite of guidelines – to make the most delicious food he can, prioritize quality and consistency, source certified humanely raised meat and local products, and use as few additives as possible. These business and product requirements have quickly become the recipe to success for Seed to Sausage.

Building the business took time. Before settling in Eastern Ontario, Mckenzie’s travels and love of meat saw him sampling salami wherever he went, refining his taste and preferences. Continue reading

Electronic “logbook” could nip animal disease outbreaks in the bud

barn-with-sign-webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – A local company has developed an electronic logbook system that can help the livestock industry quickly and easily track movement on and off farms – information that is absolutely critical for preventing or minimizing costly disease outbreaks.

Currently, a paper-based visitor register is the global standard for keeping track of who entered or left a farm property at what time and where they’d been previously.

A manual system is slow and leaves room for error, however, neither of which is helpful during a disease emergency, especially in the early days when spread can still be prevented or contained. Continue reading

A gut full of health

Emma Allen Vercoe Close-Up_University of Guelph_Photographer Martin Schwalbe_DSCF0262 - webBy Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – The key to better health is through our gut. At least that’s what Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, has concluded from her research on the human gut microbiota ecosystem.

It’s a big term but simply put, microbiota is a collection of microbes found within the gut. And those microbes are important, because they’re strongly linked to the overall health of a human or animal.

Dr. Allen-Vercoe’s latest research is applying what she’s learned about the human gut microbiota to pigs to enhance the gut system and improve the overall health of the animal. Because just like humans, better health means less disease and less antibiotic use.

“Our goal is to reduce the use of antibiotics in pigs,” says Dr. Allen-Vercoe. “If we can naturally improve an animal’s health by colonizing its gut with healthy microbes, the animal’s overall health will improve and reduce the need for antibiotic treatments.” Continue reading

Underlying heart problems could be causing pig deaths during transport

Pig truck

Pig transport truck – courtesy of Farm & Food Care photo library

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Watch the video

Guelph – New research funded through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP) is suggesting that heart failure due to enlarged hearts may be a key reason why some pigs die on farm or during transport.

In-transit losses – pigs that die while being transported – tend to be higher during the summer months when temperatures are warmer, leading to a commonly accepted school of thought that attributes heat-related stress as a leading contributor to the mortalities.

“Now we know there is a lot more to this story and although it is still a relatively unusual condition – only about 0.06 per cent of all pigs shipped to market – we should do something about it,” explained Tony Van Dreumel, an independent veterinary pathologist and consultant who worked on the project together with University of Guelph PhD candidate Kathy Zurbrigg. Continue reading