The commercial-scale, climate-controlled and bio-secure unit includes four research suites and allows researchers to simultaneously conduct multiple studies simulating swine production under diverse environmental conditions. Feed, farm and health management interventions can be evaluated in controlled conditions to investigate mode of action and validate the efficacy of innovations to support animal health and performance.
The Swine Nutrition and Health Unit was designed with high levels of animal welfare and biosecurity in mind. For example, heated floors contribute to animal comfort while custom-designed pens with slot openings allow for natural social behaviours such as nose-to-nose contact between piglets in adjacent pens. Each pen has its own water supply connected to individual reservoirs, allowing for volumetric analysis and monitoring of intake.
For optimal biosecurity, each room in the Swine Nutrition and Health Unit is equipped with separate ventilation to avoid cross-contamination. Other biosecurity measures include areas set aside for showering and dedicated clothing/footwear to protect against disease transmission from animals housed in different units. The new unit will support ongoing research in the areas of animal nutrition and innovations to improve swine health and performance without antibiotics. For example, research from the Trouw Nutrition Swine Research Centre has led to the development of Gestawean OxiLiv, a patented drinking water additive that improves piglets’ oxygenation during farrowing to reduce stillborns and support more quality piglets.
Coen Smits, Director of Research and Development at Trouw Nutrition, noted three primary areas driving Trouw Nutrition’s swine research.
- LifeStart research focuses on young animal nutrition, health and performance challenges.
- Healthy Life research focuses on innovations to support safe feed and optimise gut health while minimising use of antimicrobials in swine production.
- Sustainable Precision Farming aims to reduce the environmental footprint of pig production while supporting animal performance, health and welfare.
Inaugurating the new research facility, Trouw Nutrition CEO Saskia Korink said the Swine Nutrition and Health Unit builds on Trouw Nutrition’s mission of Feeding the Future by improving production efficiencies and environmental sustainability. “On average, production of farm animals worldwide is 30-40 percent below their genetic potential. Efficient production and sustainability go hand in hand,” she added.
Trouw Nutrition conducts about 150 studies annually, half of which are run at its proprietary research centres. Researchers partner with some of the world’s most well-respected universities to conduct studies and develop innovations. Extensive validation trials are conducted in partnership with a network of farms spanning 26 countries.
Closing the virtual opening event, Prof Dr Leo den Hartog, Director of R&D at Nutreco and part-time Professor of Animal Nutrition in a Circular Economy at Wageningen University (NL) noted that in addition to inspiring animal nutrition interventions, the Swine Research Centre provides collaboration opportunities for stakeholders across the supply chain interested in practical, economic and sustainable solutions for swine production.