New Fertility Products for the Hog Industry

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New Fertility Products for the Hog Industry
Rob Knox, Extension Swine Specialist - University of Illinois

Farmers raising pigs around the planet are always looking for ways to improve the productivity of their breeding herds. They have long used artificial insemination to increase fertility and improve genetics. Todd Gleason has more on the latest technologies in this area.

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If, like me, you visit with livestock producers very often you’ll soon land on the topic of the breeding herd. More likely than not the discussion will involve some novel approaches to increasing fertility. For instance I once covered some research that involved garage door openers. Turns out that if you can track how often a heifer is being mounted by its lot companions - other heifers - then you can better time when to put the bull in the pen. Just put the garage door opener on the heifers back and set up a computer to track how often and when it is clicked. That’s pretty simple technology. There’s some really intense stuff, too. I learned just a tidbit during the Illinois Pork Expo this year. Rob Knox told me about Post Cervical and Artificial Insemination…that’s P-C A-I for short, among other things.

Knox : ….into the market production animals.

Whoa… it is possible to increase fertility and improve genetics at a cheaper cost by using a new artificial insemination method that requires smaller amounts of semen. Cut to the chase - it’s possible to breed more sows with the same amount of semen. Consequently the farmer can purchase better genetics with which to improve the herd.

Rob Knox, by-the-way, is an Extension Swine Fertility Specialist based on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign. It was at this point in the conversation that I started thinking about the improved fertility rates and the potential for this technology to be transferred into people. It happens all the time in animal sciences - blood pressure medicine is a good example - it came from work done at the University of Wisconsin to control rodents in dairy barns. So I asked Knox if P-C A-I might be used in humans. Turns out, the technology transfer went the opposite direction in this case.

Knox : …and a lot of that work came from the human side.

Cool stuff, huh, brought to you by science, research and discovery. How about that.