Topigs Norsvin Breeding Programs Target Improved Animal Behavior

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Farmscape for October 29, 2019

Fulll Interview 12:05 Listen

The Director of Research and Development with Topigs Norsvin says animal behavior is becoming increasingly important in swine breeding programs. Topigs Norsvin’s efforts to improve behavioral traits in pigs will be among the topics discussed next month in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2019. Topigs Norsvin’s Director of Research and Development Dr. Pramod Mathur explains initially the focus of genetic selection was growth, leanness and feed efficiency then later on litter size, piglet survival and robustness and now there’s more focus on behavior, animal welfare and health.

Clip-Dr. Pramod Mathur-Topigs Norsvin Canada:
What we focus on right now in terms of behavior is social interaction between pigs, so how one pig interacts with the other in the pen. If they are nice to each other in the pen or they help each other to grow well, if one pig is really very aggressive and gets to the trough very fast and doesn’t allow the other pen mates or they are all friendly to each other. If they are nice to each other in their social interactions, it’s good for their welfare but it’s also good for the growth of the pigs. Each pig gets a good chance to eat well, grow well and that’s good for the welfare but it’s good for producers also. That’s the kind of traits we are looking at. Of course we are also looking at some undesirable traits, for example tail biting. If we stop docking the tail, that could be an issue so we are looking in many ways how best we can select pigs that will have a tendency for less tail biting.

Dr. Mathur says research in Canada and in Europe has shown good success and Topigs Norsvin added genetic evaluation for better social interaction in its lines about a year ago.

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