Zootechnical Swine Research

Animal trials consistent with ethics code

RESEARCH ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Pig husbandry research at ILVO covers various research topics. Years of in-depth knowledge has been gathered on the nutrient requirements of pigs, excretions into the environment and the determination of meat quality. These themes continue to be important research topics. Research is also conducted into the problems of castration and boar taint. A main focus is nutrition and management for a good health of piglets and fattening pigs, as well as on experiments with additives as alternative for antimicrobial growth promoters.

The pig farm has about 140 hybrid sows, 3 Pietrain boars and 900 fattening pigs (hybrid Pietrain).

SERVICES ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

  • Feeding Experiments with Piglets aged 4 to 9 Weeks.
    ILVO has the know-how, personnel and accommodation to perform piglet trials under controlled field conditions. The feeds are formulated in consultation with the client and produced in the experimental feed mill. This guarantees the precision required for this type of trial. Standard performance parameters are measured (growth, feed intake, feed conversion ratio) between 4 and 6 weeks and between 6 and 9 weeks. In addition, diarrhoea scoring and sampling for the determination of physiological parameters can be done.
  • Feeding Experiments with Fattening Pigs
    The growth performance of fattening pigs can be monitored under controlled field conditions in the same way as for piglets. Feeds are formulated in consultation with the client and produced in the experimental feed mill. This guarantees the precision needed in this type of trial. Standard performance parameters are measured (growth, feed intake, feed conversion ratio) in the different growth phases. Other measurements are possible as well. The pigs are slaughtered at a commercial slaughterhouse. ILVO has experience monitoring carcass quality and sampling at the slaughter line, including individual identification of the animals.
  • Digestibility Trials with Piglets and Fattening Pigs
    In pigs of different weight classes, both the ileal and faecal digestibility of ingredients can be tested. The Animal Sciences Unit uses standardised protocols to accomplish this.
  • Formulation of Animal Feeds
    The scientists of the ILVO Animal Sciences Unit have the knowledge and resources at their disposal to properly formulate test diets.
  • Determination of the Body Composition of Pigs (Post Mortem)
    By grinding, homogenising and analysing frozen pig carcasses, ILVO can accurately analyse the total body composition of pigs.

SERVICES AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING

The Precision Livestock Farming research group works on objectifying and automating animal-related parameters and the continuous and simultaneous monitoring of large groups of animals at individual level. This makes the daily, automatic, real-time and continuous monitoring of individual animals possible. New techniques are developed or existing sensors/technologies are adapted for this purpose.

ILVO’s scientific expertise and technical support during measurements are available, under experimental as well as field conditions. Specific expertise is available with regard to monitoring the daily eating and drinking pattern of fattening pigs, determining the weight distribution of sows, and imaging of the posture of sows to detect problems with health and production at an early stage.

CONTACT

Sam Millet (Animal Husbandry), Annelies Van Nuffel (Agricultural Engineering)