17 December 2012
31 December 2014

An asset for pig research

The CRA-W's experimental farm gives CRA-W and Wallonia a major research and innovation tool in pork production

An asset for pig research

Located on the edge of Gembloux on the CRA-W's farmland, the experimental farm assembles dairy cattle and pigs. The research works conducted there focuses on animals connected to soil, regarded as components of the food processing chain, and reared by farmers operating in a difficult and changing context. The conducted research studies and programmes are of regional, national, European and international relevance.  They are carried out for the benefit of farmers in close cooperation with universities (UCL, Gembloux Agro-Biotech, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), breeding associations and advisory bodies (AWE, AWEP, CER-Groupe, CPLPA), promotion boards (FLPLW, FVBW, FPW, FACW) and food processing companies.

The piggery is housed in a 1980s building equipped over time which technological and scientific innovations. The farm is free from a number of diseases, in particular PRRS, a widespread viral disease responsible of severe economic losses. Grouping of pregnant sows fed by automatic feeders was introduced in 2004 in the context of joint research with the FMV. Free movement for sows is experimented in the farrowing unit.  Energy savings are sought at post-weaning. Finally, the experimental production of entire males and vaccinated entire males is carried out in the fattening room.

The experimental piggery delivers animals for research and development activities. Aspects studied in recent years include outdoor pig production - a method considerably developed by farmers, introduction of lupin or rape into the feed to increase the protein autonomy, grouping of sows for animal welfare, energy-saving piglet nests, analgesia before surgical castration and fattening of entire males vaccinated against boar taint, the development of feed additives as a means of managing hyperprolificacy in sows and piglets produced to trial a progeny test method for Piétrain boars. The herd is also a very useful resource for teaching veterinary students (about sow housing and diagnostic ultrasound) and farmers new to pig production. Besides these activities in situ, the experimental piggery produces, prepares, supplies or boards out pigs dedicated to its partners' research programs. The CRA-W's experimental piggery is a major research and innovation tool in pig production.  Wide use of our animals is a primary essential factor in accomplishing that mission.

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