Eating quality, efficiency and practical pointers on nutrition and AI demonstrate how new genetics can shape up UK pig production.

Genetic gains and practical pointers proved a stimulating combination at Rattlerow Farms’ Spring Conferences. Held recently in York and Exeter, more than 100 producers attended the sessions, eager to learn more about how the new, high-performance P81 terminal sire, might help them raise efficiency and carcase values.

The US-developed boar was introduced to the UK last year by Klasse Ai as a next step in Rattlerow Farms agreement to distribute Choice Genetics sire lines in the UK. Semen sales have grown rapidly due to the genotype’s fast, efficient growth and exceptional meat content and eating quality traits.

“From a performance perspective the P81 boasts outstanding FCR and lean growth potential – averaging between 950 and 1000g ADG. However, Choice Genetics also prioritises taste and eating quality in its sire line development programme and this combination offers considerable potential for UK pig businesses. Herds using the P81 have found progeny is strong, fast-growing and has many of the carcase traits their processors are looking for,” said Simon Guise, Klasse Ai Sales Manager.

“The P81 boasts outstanding FCR and lean growth potential and Choice Genetics also prioritises taste and eating quality in its sire line development programme. This combination offers considerable potential for UK pig businesses.”
Simon Guise

Producers at the conference agreed, and said although efficiency remained their main priority, they were aware that future contracts could include more specifications relating to muscle quality, tenderness and marbling (intra-muscular). Many were already exploring how new genotypes might deliver efficient production performance without compromising carcase quality or profit potential.

Commercial pig business Crockway Farms, gave an insight into its breeding and finishing enterprise and detailed the benefits of using P81 genetics. Improvements include: better FCR and growth rate from weaning to slaughter, more uniform growth and conformation throughout the rearing herd and that pens are now cleared more rapidly. Stockmen report that finishers have a good temperament with no vices and that sow performance has improved too. Sows farrowing P81 litters have seen higher number of livebirths improved piglet viability, lower pre and post weaning mortality rates and better early stage weaner performance – added production benefits.

Commercially comparable

Commercially comparable

“These results are comparable other breed-to-finish operations using the P81. Other common observations include improvements to carcase consistency and killing out (KO) percentage, with many herds reporting a 77 to 78% KO – an improvement valued to be worth around £4.80/pig,” said Simon Guise.

Professor Chad Stahl, Global Director of Meat Science at Choice Genetics, explained some of the ongoing research and benchmarking studies that Choice Genetics implements within terminal sire line development programme. The company screens more than 10,000 elite terminal boars a year and routinely uses technology uses CT scanning, muscle-shear testing (tenderness), IMF assessments and taste panels as part of its genetic evaluation process.

He said meat manufacturers were increasingly interested in flavour factors and told producers how being able to satisfy more ‘eating quality’ criteria, while assuring animal welfare, carbon footprint, nutritive value and traceability, would probably help them secure greater processor commitment and a better price, going forward. How pork functioned in the market place against competing meats and other proteins was a fundamental issue for the pig sector and individual businesses would need to find ways to balance production economics with ethical and eating quality demands.

“How pork functions in the market place against competing meats and other proteins is a fundamental issue for the pig sector…”
Professor Chad Stahl

Data shows that Choice terminal sires consistently achieve higher than average scores for colour, marbling (IMF) and tenderness (comparison with US National Pork Producers Council standards for meat quality), while results from trained taste panels show pork from P81 sires offers best eating experience (see table).

Dietary dynamics and fertility factors

Next month, we feature Dr Sian Nichols, presentation, discussing some of the key challenges facing nutritionists, and Magapor’s Raquel Ausejo analysis of the fertility issues surrounding AI.

Dr Nichols, Pig Technical Manager at Harbro, asks if current formulation recommendations are supplying what today’s high-performance genotypes require, while Ms Ausejo, R&D Biotechnology Manager with Spain’s leading AI specialist, highlights the pitfalls pig business’s encounter when handling and storing semen and how it impacts on production outcomes.

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