We recently had the exciting opportunity to work with Topigs Norsvin as they opened their groundbreaking Delta Canada boar testing barn in Woodlands, Manitoba. This project marks an exciting time in boar research, where intricate data analysis and responsive genetic selection can improve stock in less time. Below we share a time-lapse of the project and an explanation of the overall impact on the pork genetics landscape.
New Standard's Involvement in the Project
Our role was to supply the Nedap PPT (Pig Performance Tester) units for this project. We supplied 96 PPT units that were installed in 12 rooms. There will be 12 boars on each unit for 12 weeks at a time.
The PPT records highly accurate individual feed intake information so that researchers are able to monitor the moment by moment intake and growth of boars on an individual basis.
How PPT Works
The PPT unit is an individual, free-access feeding station that identifies each boar by RFID, weighs him upon entry, and provides him with as much food as he wants to eat. When he leaves, the amount of feed he consumed is registered (weight before he entered + amount dispensed – amount left = consumption).
Using that data, Topigs Norsvin plans on selecting the top 50 boars from a total of 53,000 boars. These top 50 will be selected based on the data from the PPTs which will tell them which boars had the best feed efficiency from the time they are 30 kg to 130 kg, or about 12 weeks. Below is a Topigs poster from their grand opening which further illustrates the concept.
Those top boars that make the cut based on the data from our PPT’s will then be sent for a CT scan so researchers can analyze them internally as well. This will give them a better picture of their musculature and structure. Based on the CT scan results they will select out the boars that have the best combination of feed and growth efficiency and the best body composition. These boars will be used as stud boars to improve the genetic stock.
How This Setup Will Improve Topigs Norsvin's Genetics
In the past, when genetics companies selected boars, there was more educated guesswork involved. While they could judge feed intake to some degree, there wasn't the level of accuracy that they can achieve with the Nedap PPT units. Using the PPT data and observational data, they can generate reports that give insight into more than just feed intake. If they observe aggressive behavior traits in certain boars, they can check for correlations with feed intake, feeder dominance, etc. and begin to select out the less aggressive males if they desire.
Boars that were selected under the old system would have to be euthanized to view their musculature and structure. If the boar looked good internally, then they selected his brothers as studs, hoping and assuming that they were built the same. This new setup at Delta Canada is an exciting and monumental step forward for Topigs Norsvin as it brings even more robust data and accuracy to their genetics research, and we were proud to partner with them for this project.