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Governments Invest $2.2 Million In Pork Research In Manitoba

The governments of Canada and Manitoba are investing $2.2 million in three agricultural research projects, to be conducted by Topigs Norsvin Canada (TN), that will enhance the competitiveness of Manitoba pork producers by improving the precision feeding of sows and promoting higher animal welfare standards.

“These innovative projects will give the pork industry more tools in their sustainability toolbox,” said Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. “They will help to improve feeding and housing for the pigs, which leads to better resource efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint for producers. Topigs Norsvin plays a big role in making Canada a global leader in swine genetics, and we are proud to support their work.”

The three research projects, which will help the pork industry be more environmentally and economically sustainable, will focus on:

- improving competitiveness and sustainability of pork production through increased feed efficiency, improved carcass quality and higher animal welfare standards by innovative application of microbiome profiling, computer tomography and genomics;
- advancing sow reproductive knowledge and management practices for optimal lifetime productivity and embryo transfer success; and
- innovative application of artificial intelligence, machine learning, behavioural science and genomics to enhance resource efficiency for environmental sustainability of sow farms in Manitoba using welfare friendly production.

A key element of the strategy includes using innovation to grow livestock herds for animal protein and new acres for plant protein, while ensuring Manitoba remains a strong environment for investment and is responsive to the needs of producers.

“Our government is pleased to support the work of our producers through these innovative projects that will accelerate agricultural innovation, promote knowledge transfer to producers, advance value-added opportunities, strengthen competitiveness and support sustainable agricultural development in our provincial pork industry,” said Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler. “The results of these projects will be valuable in our continuing efforts to strengthen the sustainability of our provincial pork industry.”

TN is establishing an over $30-million new research and development facility in Plumas, Manitoba. It is to be completed by the end of 2022 and is aimed at sow management, where the funded projects will be conducted and results shared with industry stakeholders. The first of its kind in the world, these projects will utilize leading-edge artificial intelligence, computer vision, behavioural research, and precision feeding to generate a database comprised of important animal health and welfare data.

“Topigs Norsvin continuously monitors international developments in the pork industry and prides itself as a leader in the sector,” said Hans Olislagers, Chief Technical Officer, Topigs Norsvin. “Implementation of loose housing of sows during farrowing is already legislated in several countries and we recognize our responsibility to breed and select pigs while maintaining the integrity of animal welfare. This assures our customers that our genetics will fit the housing systems and market demands of the future.”

Funding is provided by the Ag Action Manitoba Program-Research and Innovation, through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The funded research will be beneficial to the province’s first-of-its-kind sustainable protein strategy, ensuring Manitoba producers are well-positioned to remain leaders in plant and animal protein development in the face of increased global demand for high-quality protein.

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