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 July 03 2014

Scientists have raised the bar in swine breeding and raising technologies and continue to seek ways to improve swine production efficiency and produce high quality meat. FFTC, together with the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute (AHRI), the Rural Development Foundation (RDF) and the Council of Agriculture (COA) have linked up to gather the best livestock experts in the region and organized an international swine breeding workshop.

Swine breeding technologies used to be confined to topics relating to pen-mating, hand-mating and artificial insemination. But with the continuous advances in science, breeding pigs have gone notches higher. Today, livestock experts are talking about cutting-edge technologies like molecular-oriented marker breeding which is used for the selection of various superior traits like prolific, stress-free, better meat quality and disease resistance. All of these also go hand in hand with feeds and nutrition management, which are considered key factors to increase reproduction efficiency while minimizing disease infection in swine.

On June 2-7, 2014, some 26 livestock experts from 11 countries gathered in Tainan, Taiwan for an international symposium entitled “Recent Progress in Swine Breeding and Raising Technologies.” This will also coincide with another satellite symposium called “Cutting-Edge Reproductive Technologies and Perspectives for their Usage in Swine.” These twin events are organized by FFTC, together with the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute (TLRI) and the Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) in Taiwan.

Symposia, country reports and discussion

The two symposia shared and exchanged recent advanced research and practical technologies on swine breeding and raising in the Asian Pacific region. It also served as a platform for future cooperation and technical exchange among scientists, policymakers, extension specialists, and various stakeholders to ensure safe and high quality production of swine products by Asian small-scale farmers.

The keynote speech in the said symposium entitled “Using Today’s Technology for Breeding Pigs for Tomorrow’s Conditions” was delivered by Dr. Jan ten Napel, Senior Genetics Researcher of the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen UR Livestock Research, the Netherlands.

Genes, feeds and health management

Eight sessions comprised the said two-day symposia. In the main symposium, the sessions are: 1) Molecular technology for swine breeding; 2) Swine feed and nutrition; 3) Swine health management; and 4) pork quality and meat processing.

In the section on molecular-marker oriented swine breeding, the discussion focused on the extension of molecular markers to the genomic level. These are the quantitative traits, which are genetically controlled by many loci, such as growth, reproduction, meat quality, conformation, health, etc. which might be influenced simultaneously by many genetic markers located at different regions of the genome. This session discussed and explored the following four various kinds of genes:  1) The prolific gene which is also called the Estrogen receptor gene (ESR), a major gene which control the litter size in pigs; 2) Stress gene: Also called the porcine stress syndrome (PSS) gene, which has been proven to cause malignant hyperthermia (heat shock) when pigs are under abiotic stresses. This gene is commonly called halothane gene, because the PSS can be triggered by exposing pigs to anesthetic, halogene gas;  3) Pork quality gene, which is also called the heart fatty acid-binding protein genes (H-FABP). The different frequencies of restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) produced by digestion with restriction enzymes Mspl, Haelll, and Hinfl among breeds and polymorphisms at this locus are closely associated with fatness traits in Duroc pigs; and 4) the disease resistance gene.

On the other hand, the second session, swine, feed and nutrition, delved into cost effective feed formulation and focused on topics such as feed efficiency, feed additives like enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, immune enhancing substances, etc,  and appropriate feed formulation for prolific  and nursing sows, which is critical in sow-herd management.

The third session on swine management focused on topics like biosecurity practices, optimum production system, as well as monitoring and diagnosis of disease. Speakers discussed the production system management as well as alternative disease control procedures, as well as viable diagnosis and monitoring of swine diseases.

In the session on pork quality and meat processing, the focus centered around pig-raising value-added technology for quality pork production, postharvest handling and evaluation of quality pork, application of chilled pork at 0-4oC in supermarkets from the wholesaler or direct from the abattoir, packaging, processing and traceability of quality pork and evaluation of quality pork in the hocks, spare ribs, back ribs, shoulder, and belly meat for further processing into hams, bacons and sausages.

Satellite symposium

Meanwhile, the satellite symposium also comprised of the following sessions: 5) Artificial insemination; 6) Oocyte and embryo factory; 7) Stem cells; and 8) bio-utilization of genetic diversity.

In between these sessions, there will be country reports delivered by top notch scientists from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

On the last day of the symposium, foreign participants had an educational tour to TLRI’s Physiology Division, Waste Water Treatment, Feed Analysis Center and Animal Germplasm Center. They also witnessed a Breeding Pig Auction and Awarding Ceremony, and visited the Sausage Museum in Tainan.

Aside from FFTC, TLRI and AHRI, the twin symposia is also sponsored by the following: Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, Taiwan ROC;  Rural Development Fund,  Taiwan ROC; National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Japan; NARO Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, National Institute of Animal Health, Japan and the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan.