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Global Pig Nutrition Experts Envisage Redefining Pig Nutrition at the Alltech China Pig Nutritional Meeting

[Guangzhou, CHINA] – More than 270 key Chinese pig nutritionists and company leaders gathered in Guangzhou to attend the Alltech China Pig Nutritional Meeting on Wednesday, November 7. The two-day event provided a unique opportunity for attendees to interact with pig experts from around the world in order to discuss the real requirements today and future swine nutrition of the world’s largest pig producing country.

“With its 175.4 million tons of feed production, China has become the number one feed producer in the world according to Alltech’s Global Feed Tonnage Report”, said Dr. Mark Lyons, Alltech vice president, corporate affairs. “In the last few decades Chinese meat consumption has shown a steady increase and within that pork meat is one of the fastest growing meat segment representing 54% of the total 70kgs of meat consumption per capita per year”, he continued.

Chairman of the meeting Aidan Connolly, said that Chinese swine production had increased by 22% in the last 10 years making China by far the largest pig producer in the world. “There is however a huge gap between the Chinese and Western pig industries in terms of production costs and animal performance.” Connolly, Alltech vice president & adjunct professor of marketing at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, added, “In particular, swine feed costs are 30% more for a Chinese producer and this falls short of the potential pigs per sow.”

Dr. Karl Dawson, Alltech vice president and chief scientific officer, explained, that the way we look at today’s swine nutrition will dramatically change in the next decade. The science of Nutrigenomics has enabled scientists to examine 28,000 of the pigs genes in terms of how these genes are expressed in the presence of different nutrients.

Researchers at Alltech’s Nutrigenomics Centre have successfully managed to identify groups of genes which are crucial for performance, meat quality and the resistance to different animal diseases. He commented that, “Today, we can nutritional condition young pigs to generate specific responses against specific pig diseases.” He explained that nutrigenomics is a very powerful tool which allows scientists and nutritionists to make changes rapidly ensuring the sustainability of pig production.

Dr. Roger Campbell, chief executive officer of CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork, introduced the amino acid requirement for modern pig nutrition. Modern pigs are capable of feed efficiency levels approaching those of poultry and this has improved considerably over the last decade. As Dr. Campbell explained, in order to establish effective amino acids requirements, producers are either advised to conduct their own trials every two years to avail of the tables provided by the genetics supplier and NRC publications. NIR calibrations have been developed which accurately can identify reactive lysine, reverted lysine and other amino acids.

Prof. Jim Pettigrew, professor of University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences presented on the global move away from sub therapeutic use of antibiotics as today there is choice of available alternatives which focus on compounds that are anti-inflammatory and are maintaining intestinal health. Prof. Pettigrew introduced a study from the University of Illinois which examined Alltech’s Bio-Mos® and Actigen™ products in term of benefits for growth and performance of sows and piglets as well as the benefits for resistance to viral diseases. The study showed that Bio-Mos can be beneficial in the presence of PRRS, where it improves feed efficiency, reduces inflammation, increases white blood cell counts which may protect against secondary infections, and changes gene expression. Feeding Bio-Mos to sows reduces pre-weaning mortality, increases pre-weaning growth rate, reduces the wean-to-estrus interval, and increases post-weaning growth rate.

Dr. Wallace Henry, SM Pigs Limited introduced Western Europe pig production trends by showing the merits of the various energy and protein dietary descriptions. Every producer needs to understand the economics of choice and profitability needs to be the primarily goal, not just pig productivity.  Wallace advised the audience that Chinese producers must have accurate nutrient specifications for their own feed ingredients.

Dr. Gretchen Hill, professor of Michigan State University in the Animal Science Department demonstrated the importance of redefining the need of minerals for today’s pig production. As a member of the recent NRC review she gave examples of the latest thinking on Phosphorous, Copper, Zinc and other minerals.  Chinese pig producers need to be concerned about the source of Phytase when considering how to formulate, and must understand that all chelated minerals are not the same and the data of one cannot be used to support the use of a different product. Although minerals are still considered to be cheap, there may be unintended consequences of overuse, and producers should consider replacing inorganic sources with organically complexed ones.

Dr. Daiwen Chen, vice president, Si Chuan Agriculture University, explained that Chinese nutritional research is now focusing on identifying the real needs of Chinese pigs in Chinese conditions. Dr. Chen introduced new data on Alltech’s Actigen product in sows which showed improvements in piglets when using Actigen in sow diets and the weaning pig.  By using Actigen pigs were better in terms of weight gain, growth rate, with more immunoglobulins and improved immunity in the animal.

Dr. Walter Tibbetts, Cape Fear Consulting covered the topic of feeding weaned pigs in large systems for lifetime performance. Tibbetts explained that highly digestible feed ingredients if properly formulated can result in increased intakes with increased post-weaning daily gains in healthy pigs.  Some functional protein sources offer additional benefits beyond the contribution of the amino acids.   Studies conducted with large US integrated operations have shown that NuPro® can improve metabolism, increase cell turnover rate and promote immune development. The nursery phase may represent only a short stage of the pig’s life, however, it is one of most critical periods with regard to cost, meeting the animal’s continually changing needs, and performance in the latter stages of production.

Dr. Jian Peng, professor of Institute of Huazhong Agriculture University, Department of Animal Science and Technology indicated that fiber can be a vital source of health and productivity in sows. Sow nutrition is as important from an on-farm profitability point of view as other ages, and optimising sow nutrition impacts the performance and health of weaned pigs.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Mark Lyons said, “70% of the Chinese population will live in cities by 2030 and China will represent the world’s largest middle class. It has never been a better time to be in China. Chinese consumers are more and more conscious about better quality, safer and traceable food and Alltech’s cutting edge technologies such as nutrigenomics are fully supporting these requirements.”