Pork CRC Project 3B-102. A Pork CRC study led by Dr Karen Murphy of University of South Australia has shown that lean pork can be safely incorporated as part of a weight management program for Type 2 diabetes, resulting in improved glycaemic control and cardiometabolic health outcomes.
Energy restriction has sustained health benefits for Type 2 diabetics, with high or lower levels of pork included in their diets, when weight loss is maintained.
Pork CRC Project 1B-102: Polyamine supplementing of piglets, especially compromised ones, in the week before weaning, could improve weight gains and subsequent productivity, according to research led by Dr Will van Wettere, University of Adelaide. This could be achieved by delivering polyamines in additional drinking bowls towards the end of lactation in the farrowing pen and then immediately after weaning.
Pork CRC Project 1B-103: A project led by Dr Kate Plush, University of Adelaide, showed that lessening sow contact as lactation progressed, could improve the subsequent welfare and production of piglets in the days following weaning. The improved growth from the gradually weaning could be attributed to greater creep feed consumption, less aggression, fewer injuries and a lower cortisol response to weaning.
Pork CRC Project 3B-104: University of Wollongong Associate Professor, Karen Charlton, having investigated if muscle mass, body strength and cognitive function improved in community living older adults if their main protein source was pork, concluded that just changing the type of dietary protein provided by meat did not affect physical and cognitive function. Her project did, however, produce insightful qualitative data for the pork industry about the eating behaviours of older adults, a growing market for pork meat sales, given Australia’s ageing population.
Pork CRC Project 3A-109: A collaborative project between Professor Frank Dunshea, University of Melbourne and three of Australia’s leading integrated pork producers/processors, found that the eating quality of pork from females and immunocastrated males was comparable, highlighting that including immunocastrated males in the marketing mix could improve pork eating quality consistency. The researchers also showed that eating quality of Australian pork could also be improved by such processing interventions as electrical stimulation, moisture infusion and Aitchbone hanging. The effects of the different interventions differed across supply chains but in all cases the cut with the lowest eating quality or highest fail rate at each supply chain was improved by intervention. Across the supply chains the fail rate of the worst cut ranged from 25%-42% and was reduced to 10% or less by intervention during processing. A big outcome and the implications will need to be considered by the individual supply chains.
Pork CRC Project 1A-105 investigated sow performance, sow welfare, piglet survival and growth and the incidence of lactational oestrus in a ‘two-stage’ farrowing and lactation system under Australian conditions.
The ‘two-stage’ is where sows farrow in a specialised individual farrowing pen (PigSAFE pen) or farrowing crate and are then grouped into more cost-effective accommodation after 12-14 days (i.e. multi-suckle or group lactation).
Piglet survival tended to be lower in the PigSafe pen and weaning weight was reduced in piglets transferred to group lactation. The incidence of spontaneous lactational oestrus was around 9% for sows which remained in farrowing crates to weaning but approached 30% for sows in PigSafe pens and 20-27% for sows in the group lactation treatments.
A large study (Pork CRC Project 1C-105) by Professor Paul Hemsworth, Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC), suggests minimal long term impacts on reproduction and welfare from the higher cortisol levels and aggression exhibited by sows immediately after mixing at lower floor space. After investigating how floor spaces between 1.45 and 2.9 square metres affected the welfare and performance of sows grouped within four days of mating, Paul, like his AWSC colleague, Dr Jean-Loup Rault in another Pork CRC study, found that aggressive interactions and cortisol levels at day two after mixing declined with increasing floor space, but there were no effects at day 26. Our Pork CRC researchers, who lead the world in sow welfare, have now clearly shown that mixing sows at weaning or after mating has no long term effects on welfare and excellent reproduction will be achieved, if sows are appropriately fed and carefully managed.
Pork CRC research into the performance and eating quality of entire male pigs and those immunised against gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), using Improvac™, has revealed that androstenone and skatole, the compounds linked to boar taint, were significantly higher in the belly fat of entire males than in immunised males.
The study 3A-101: Body composition and physiological changes associated with immunization of pigs against gonadotrophin releasing factor (GnRF) at two different live weights, by PhD candidate Karen Moore of WA Department of Agriculture and Food, also showed that androstenone was higher in entire male pigs grown out to heavier live weights (107kg v 74 kg). While no entire male pigs slaughtered at lighter weights had androstenone levels above the sensory threshold (>1.0 ug/g), 18 per cent of those grown to heavier weights did. In contrast, 18pc of light weight and 33pc of heavy weight entire males had belly fat skatole levels exceeding the sensory threshold for skatole (>0.2 ug/g). Of pigs fed adlibitum, 38pc and 43pc of light and heavy entire males had skatole levels above the sensory threshold.