University of Leeds: New pig centre to provide link from lab to farm

(11.10.2006) A new pig development centre launched at the University of Leeds on October 6 will link academics with pig producers to help the UK’s pig industry regain its position as a world leader.

The National Pig Development Centre, funded by the British Pig Executive (BPEX), will create the largest facility for pig research, development and knowledge transfer in the country, bringing together the UK’s top researchers in the field from the universities of Leeds and Newcastle and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in Thirsk.

Key to the project is the link, through BPEX, with pig producers to ensure that research findings can be quickly translated into good practice on the farm and that problems on the farm can quickly be addressed through research and development. The centre will include a team of knowledge transfer specialists from BPEX who will work with the researchers to ensure their work is disseminated to industry and will liaise with farmers to identify issues where research is needed.

Areas already identified by the centre for research include analysing the benefits of new sire lines, assessing how to manage variations in meat quality without affecting customer demand, ways to reduce the seasonal effects on production for the 25 percent of pigs produced outdoors in the UK and looking at the best ways to refurbish buildings to improve pig health and performance.

Dr Helen Miller, from the University of Leeds and co-director of the Pig Development Centre said: "Britain has some fantastic research going on in pig production, but this doesn’t filter through to the farming community. Our pig industry has had a tough time over the last ten years but initiatives like this are helping it turn the corner. The research expertise exists to enable farmers to get the best from their livestock and the new centre will ensure they are able to benefit from our work.”

The centre’s other co-directors will be Professor Sandra Edwards of Newcastle University and Professor Stan Done of the VLA.

BPEX Director of Pig Industry Development, Mark Wilson, said: "The Pig Development Centre will help to increase the speed with which information is disseminated to and from the industry and give us a single point of contact with leading groups of academics who have been extremely proactive in wanting to see a successful, thriving UK pig industry.”

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