Pork CRC students making a mark

CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork supported Animal Science Honours student, Danica Evans (pictured right), who recently received First Class Honours for her work and topped her year, is now doing the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, also at Murdoch University.

Her Pork CRC Honours thesis was titled Comparison of acetylated high amylose maize starch and zinc oxide for amelioration of post-weaning diarrhoea in weaned pigs.

Evans’ supervisor, Prof John Pluske (pictured left) and Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell agreed her results confirmed the efficacy of zinc oxide for ameliorating diarrhoea in newly-weaned pigs, but the mechanism was yet to be definitively established.

After reviewing Danica’s final report, Dr Campbell declared that the positive effects of the maize starch product, a form of resistant starch, on feed efficiency in the third week and overall were interesting and implicated a possible role for lower ileal/hindgut activity in performance.

“This is possibly linked to the gut bacteria/fermentation of favourable products from the resistant starch,” Dr Campbell said.

He added that the potential implications for grower/finisher pigs was exciting, but the issue, as always, would be cost, given the product was geared to the human market.

Congratulating Danica, Dr Campbell said coming first in her honours year was a fantastic achievement.

“We are proud of our Pork CRC supported students as they contribute to the pork industry while studying, often with significant findings from their under and post graduate studies.

“Many then, of course, go on and take up professional positions in industry where their good work continues,” he said.

Ingunn Stensland, another former Pork CRC supported Murdoch University Honours student supervised by Prof Pluske, recently commenced employment as R&D Officer with WA’s Craig Mostyn Group, best known for its Linley Valley Pork.

Dr Campbell said the uptake of Pork CRC supported students by industry had been exceptional and a clear indicator of the student and supervisor quality in Pork CRC’s education program.

Of 23 postgraduates and 12 Industry Placement Program people who started with Pork CRC (HIAP), 14 postgraduates (including seven of nine yet to complete their higher degrees) and 11 IPPs are now employed. The total is 23 as two post-grads are also IPPs.

Pork CRC set to sow animal welfare advances

Australian Pork (Pork CRC) CEO Roger Campbell, says major progress and breakthroughs in pig and pork R&D were made across all four of the CRC’s programs.
“We’ve improved the welfare and performance of sows grouped in gestation, we’re developing alternative strategies to improve animal health, disease diagnostics and pork eating quality, plus advancing biogas management and grain inputs,” Dr Campbell said.
“Australia’s pork industry and researchers have led the world in transitioning from stall to group housing of gestating sows, with industry showing the forethought and courage to make the move and our scientists then making it work on a welfare basis for the sow and in terms of reproductive performance for the producer.”
Pork CRC scientists are now looking at satiety and enrichment for gestating sows and at the welfare and well being of sows and their piglets during farrowing and lactation.
“The latter remains a challenging area, but we have the best in world working on it and a very innovative program in place,” Dr Campbell said.
According to Melina Tensen, Senior Scientific Officer (Farm Animals), RSPCA Australia, Pork CRC’s R&D programs reflect an awareness of emerging issues and responsiveness to growing consumer expectations that may impact the industry.
“Pork CRC’s research is essential to the success of alternative farrowing and group housing systems and to farmer uptake of such systems,” Ms Tensen said.
“Undoubtedly, thanks to the success of the Pork CRC’s group-housing workshops, many pig farmers have implemented housing and feeding systems that best suit them and close to three quarters of gestating sows are now sow-stall free.
“The success of Pork CRC, in addition to the quality of the research, is attributable to the significant resources that major pig producing companies are willing to invest in order to achieve practical, on-farm improvements.
“This and the efforts of every single pig farmer who has transitioned or is still in the process of transitioning to group housing, should be highly commended.
“As Pork CRC’s work moves into the next stage, RSPCA remains committed to working with the pig industry and its stakeholders on the challenging journey towards high integrity Australian pork,” Ms Tensen said.
Dr Campbell said that in the next four years, Pork CRC would address areas across its four programs where gaps in knowledge still existed, while helping ensure Australia produces the highest quality pork in the world and that Pork CRC continues to help industry differentiate itself from the rest of the world.